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Giovanni Broggi and Angelo Franzini

✓ Twenty patients suffering from non-neoplastic symptomatic facial pain underwent percutaneous radiofrequency trigeminal thermo-rhizotomy. Fourteen patients had long-standing severe multiple sclerosis, two patients had intracranial aneurysms, three patients had basilar impression secondary to Paget's disease and developmental malformation of the skull, and one patient was suffering from chronic ocular pain that developed after retinal hemorrhage. Pain paroxysms similar to tic douloureux were present in patients with multiple sclerosis and in those with basilar impression, while continuous aching pain was present in the others. After thermo-rhizotomy, pain disappeared in all patients; however, at 1 to 4 years follow-up examination, a high recurrence rate (40%) was present in the multiple sclerosis group, and the percutaneous procedure was successfully repeated. In the patients with intracranial aneurysm not amenable to direct surgery, and in the other non-neoplastic diseases, complete pain relief was found at 4 years follow-up review.

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Cesare Giorgi and Giovanni Broggi

✓ The outcome is summarized for 14 cases operated on for glossopharyngeal neuralgia, with both open and percutaneous rhizotomy techniques, between 1960 and 1984. Four patients, all with primary neuralgia, underwent open surgery. Pain disappeared, leaving only a ninth nerve deficit in all but one patient; in that patient, paroxysms of pain recurred after 3 years, mediated by the nervus intermedius. Five other patients with idiopathic neuralgia and five patients with pain secondary to carcinoma underwent percutaneous procedures. Seven patients who had retrogasserian percutaneous rhizotomy for associated trigeminal neuralgia were also pain-free. No mortality or morbidity resulted from either type of procedure.

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Vittoria Nazzi, Angelo Franzini, Giuseppe Messina and Giovanni Broggi

✓In the past few years, several different minimally invasive surgical techniques have been proposed to decompress the median nerve at the wrist. Use of these techniques has become widespread due to fewer local complications, faster functional recovery, and reduced surgical time. In this paper the authors compare 3 different minimally invasive surgical techniques used at their institution in the past 13 years. Between January 1994 and January 2007, 891 patients underwent 1272 surgeries at the authors' institution for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), for which a minimally invasive technique was used. In 473 cases (Group A), the transillumination technique with a single wrist incision and a “carpalotome” (a modified Paine retinaculotome) was used; in 216 cases (Group B), transillumination was abandoned and a single linear wrist incision for access with the carpalotome was performed; and in 583 cases (Group C), the techniques were further modified by making a second incision in the palm using the carpalotome. All 3 groups of patients were homogeneous for age, sex, and duration of the symptomatology. In 90% of the patients in Group A, in 88% of those in Group B, and 99.8% of patients in Group C, complete remission of symptoms was obtained. Due to persistence of symptoms, 44 patients in Group A, 24 in Group B, and only 1 in Group C underwent a repeated operation with the open technique. The only surgical complication requiring repeated operation of the 1272 operations was a lesion of the primitive median artery (1 patient in Group C).

The technique of median nerve decompression at the wrist that was used for patients in Group C represents a valid alternative for treatment of CTS.

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Angelo Franzini, Paolo Ferroli, Domenico Servello and Giovanni Broggi

✓ The authors describe a case of complete recovery from the so-called “thalamic hand” syndrome following chronic motor cortex stimulation in a 64-year-old man suffering from poststroke thalamic central pain. As of the 2-year follow-up examination, the patient's dystonia and pain are still controlled by electrical stimulation.

It is speculated that a common mechanism in which the thalamocortical circuit loops are rendered out of balance may sustain hand dystonia and central pain in this case of thalamic syndrome. To the authors' knowledge this is the first reported case of its kind.

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Paolo Ferroli, Francesco Acerbi, Giovanni Tringali, Erminia Albanese, Morgan Broggi, Angelo Franzini and Giovanni Broggi

Object

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate whether venous indocyanine green (ICG) videoangiography has any potential for predicting the presence of a safe collateral circulation for veins that are at risk for intentional or unintentional damage during surgery.

Methods

The authors performed venous ICG videoangiography during 153 consecutive neurosurgical procedures. On those occasions in which a venous sacrifice occurred during surgery, whether that sacrifice was preplanned (intended) or unintended, venous ICG videoangiography was repeated so as to allow us to study the effect of venous sacrifice. A specific test to predict the presence of venous collateral circulation was also applied in 8 of these cases.

Results

Venous ICG videoangiography allowed for an intraoperative real-time flow assessment of the exposed veins with excellent image quality and resolution in all cases. The veins observed in this study were found to be extremely different with respect to flow dynamics and could be divided in 3 groups: 1) arterialized veins; 2) fast-draining veins with uniform filling and clear flow direction; and 3) slow-draining veins with nonuniform filling. Temporary clipping was found to be a simple and reversible way to test for the presence of potential anastomotic circulation.

Conclusions

Venous ICG videoangiography is able to reveal substantial variability in the venous flow dynamics. “Slow veins,” when they are tributaries of bridging veins, might hide a potential for anastomotic circulation that deserve further investigation.

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Angelo Franzini, Giuseppe Messina, Roberto Cordella, Carlo Marras and Giovanni Broggi

Object

The aim of this study was to review the indications for and results of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posterior hypothalamus (pHyp) in the treatment of drug-refractory and severe painful syndromes of the face, disruptive and aggressive behavior associated with epilepsy, and below-average intelligence. The preoperative clinical picture, functional imaging studies, and overall clinical results in the literature are discussed.

Methods

All patients underwent stereotactic implantation of deep-brain electrodes within the pHyp. Data from several authors have been collected and reported for each clinical entity, as have clinical results, adverse events, and neurophysiological characteristics of the pHyp.

Results

The percentage of patients with chronic cluster headache who responded to DBS was 50% in the overall reported series. The response rate was 100% for short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing and for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania, although only 2 patients and 1 patient, respectively, have been described as having these conditions.

None of the 4 patients suffering from refractory neuropathic trigeminal pain benefited from the procedure (0% response rate), whereas all 5 patients (100%) affected with refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN) due to multiple sclerosis (MS) and undergoing pHyp DBS experienced a significant decrease in pain attacks within the first branch of cranial nerve V. Six (75%) of 8 patients presenting with aggressive behavior and mental retardation benefited from pHyp stimulation; 6 patients were part of the authors' series and 2 were reported in the literature.

Conclusions

In carefully selected patients, DBS of the pHyp can be considered an effective procedure for the treatment of refractory trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, aggressive behavior, and MS-related TN in the first trigeminal branch. Only larger and prospective studies along with multidisciplinary approaches (including, by necessity, neuroimaging studies) can lead us to better patient selection that would reduce the rate of nonresponders.

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Angelo Franzini, Vidmer Scaioli, Filippo Leocata, Elena Palazzini and Giovanni Broggi

✓ The anterior interosseous nerve can become entrapped within the antecubital fossa at its origin from the median nerve, which results in the so-called Kiloh—Nevin syndrome. In this report, the authors describe an atypical anterior interosseous nerve syndrome due to neurovascular relationships with the anterior interosseous artery. The patient complained of unbearable analgesic-resistant pain within the forearm and focal myokymia in muscles innervated by branches of the anterior interosseous and distal median nerves. Pain and myokymia were alleviated by inflated blood pressure cuff compression in the bicipital region when the arterial pulse was abolished distally. Microsurgical correction of the pulsatile arterial compression resulted in relief from pain and myokymia. Neurophysiological considerations of the mechanism underlying “irritative” neuropathy and myokymia are discussed.

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Vittoria Nazzi, Giuseppe Messina, Ivano Dones, Paolo Ferroli and Giovanni Broggi

✓The authors report on the case of a 32-year-old woman with an intramuscular arteriovenous hemangioma (AVH) of the left forearm with burning pain and paresthesias diffused to the radial nerve–related territories. The patient underwent coil embolization of the AVH and surgical removal of the remnant and regrown AVH. This case demonstrates the safety and efficacy of surgery when interventional radiology fails to achieve complete occlusion. En bloc removal of the lesion was performed through a left elbow cleft incision, and intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring and angiography with indocyanine green (ICG) were performed. The pathological diagnosis was intramuscular AVH. Postoperative follow-up examinations demonstrated the permanent disappearance of the subcutaneous mass and of the patient's sensory disturbances. Complete excision of the AVH was confirmed on postoperative magnetic resonance angiography, and no surgery-related complications or new neurological symptoms were detected.

Intramuscular AVHs are rare lesions that can be successfully treated with both coil endovascular embolization and surgery; the latter is indicated when endovascular procedures fail to occlude the AVH completely. Intraoperative angiography with ICG can be helpful in confirming the success of the procedure.

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Angelo Franzini, Giovanni Broggi, Domenico Servello, Ivano Dones and Maria Grazia Pluchino

✓ An alternative technique for performing minimally invasive release of carpal tunnel syndrome is described. The suggested methodology is based on transillumination of the carpal tunnel during surgery. The advantages of the technique are discussed and compared with other available surgical procedures including endoscopy. The authors also describe preliminary operative results in 50 consecutive patients.