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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Claudine O. Nogarede, Jasper F. C. Wolfs, and Mark P. Arts

OBJECTIVE

The performance of surgery for spinal metastases is rapidly increasing. Different surgical procedures, ranging from stabilization alone to stabilization combined with corpectomy, are thereby performed for various indications. Little is known about the impact of these different procedures on patient quality of life (QOL), but this factor is crucial when discussing the various therapeutic options with patients and their families. Thus, the authors of this study investigated the effect of various surgical procedures for spinal metastases on patient QOL.

METHODS

The authors prospectively followed a cohort of 113 patients with spinal metastases who were referred to their clinic for surgical evaluation between July 2012 and July 2014. Quality of life was assessed using the EQ-5D at intake and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after treatment.

RESULTS

Nineteen patients were treated conservatively, 41 underwent decompressive surgery with or without stabilization, 47 underwent a piecemeal corpectomy procedure with stabilization and expandable cage reconstruction, and 6 had a stabilization procedure without decompression. Among all surgical patients, the mean EQ-5D score was significantly increased from 0.44 pretreatment to 0.59 at 3 months after treatment (p < 0.001). Mean EQ-5D scores at 1 year after surgery further increased to 0.84 following decompression with stabilization, 0.74 after corpectomy with stabilization, and 0.94 after stabilization without decompression. Frankel scores also improved after surgery. There were no significant differences in improvements in EQ-5D scores and Frankel grades among the different surgical procedures. In addition, mortality and complication rates were similar.

CONCLUSIONS

Quality of life can improve significantly after various extensive and less extensive surgical procedures in patients with spinal metastases. The relatively invasive corpectomy procedure, as compared with alternative less invasive techniques, does not negatively affect outcome.

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Godard C. W. de Ruiter and Mark P. Arts

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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Robert J. Spinner, Joost Verhaagen, and Martijn J. A. Malessy

Misdirection of regenerating axons is one of the factors that can explain the limited results often found after nerve injury and repair. In the repair of mixed nerves innervating different distal targets (skin and muscle), misdirection may, for example, lead to motor axons projecting toward skin, and vice versa—that is, sensory axons projecting toward muscle. In the repair of motor nerves innervating different distal targets, misdirection may result in reinnervation of the wrong target muscle, which might function antagonistically. In sensory nerve repair, misdirection might give an increased perceptual territory. After median nerve repair, for example, this might lead to a dysfunctional hand.

Different factors may be involved in the misdirection of regenerating axons, and there may be various mechanisms that can later correct for misdirection. In this review the authors discuss these different factors and mechanisms that act along the pathway of the regenerating axon. The authors review recently developed evaluation methods that can be used to investigate the accuracy of regeneration after nerve injury and repair (including the use of transgenic fluorescent mice, retrograde tracing techniques, and motion analysis). In addition, the authors discuss new strategies that can improve in vivo guidance of regenerating axons (including physical guidance with multichannel nerve tubes and biological guidance accomplished using gene therapy).

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Martijn J. A. Malessy, Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Kees S. de Boer, and Ralph T. W. M. Thomeer

Object. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the restoration of shoulder function by means of suprascapular nerve neurotization in adult patients with proximal C-5 and C-6 lesions due to a severe brachial plexus traction injury. The primary goal of brachial plexus reconstructive surgery was to restore biceps muscle function and, secondarily, to reanimate shoulder function.

Methods. Suprascapular nerve neurotization was performed by grafting the C-5 nerve in 24 patients and by accessory or hypoglossal nerve transfer in 29 patients. Additional neurotization involving the axillary nerve was performed in 18 patients.

Postoperative needle electromyography studies of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and deltoid muscles showed signs of reinnervation in most patients; however, active glenohumeral shoulder function recovery was poor. In nine (17%) of 53 patients supraspinatus muscle strength was Medical Research Council (MRC) Grade 3 or 4 and in four patients (8%) infraspinatus muscle power was MRC Grade 3 or 4. In 18 patients in whom deltoid muscle reinnervation was attempted, MRC Grade 3 or 4 function was demonstrated in two (11%). In the overall group, eight patients (15%) exhibited glenohumeral abduction with a mean of 44 ± 17° (standard deviation [SD]; median 45°) and four patients (8%) exhibited glenohumeral exorotation with a mean of 48 ± 24° (SD; median 53°). In only three patients (6%) were both functions regained.

Conclusions. The reanimation of shoulder function in patients with proximal C-5 and C-6 brachial plexus traction injuries following suprascapular nerve neurotization is disappointingly low.

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Martijn J. A. Malessy, Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Kees S. de Boer, and Ralph T. W. M. Thomeer

Object

The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the restoration of shoulder function by means of supra-scapular nerve neurotization in adult patients with proximal C-5 and C-6 lesions due to a severe brachial plexus traction injury (BPTI). The primary goal of brachial plexus reconstructive surgery was to restore the biceps muscle function and, secondarily, to reanimate shoulder function.

Methods

Suprascapular nerve neurotization was performed by grafting the C-5 nerve in 24 patients and by accessory or hypoglossal nerve transfer in 29 patients. Additional neurotization involving the axillary nerve could be performed in 18 patients.

Postoperative needle electromyography studies of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and deltoid muscles showed signs of reinnervation in most patients; however, active glenohumeral shoulder function recovery was poor. In nine (17%) of 53 patients supraspinatus muscle strength was Medical Research Council (MRC) Grade 3 or 4 and in four (8%) infraspinatus muscle power was Grade 3 or 4. In 18 patients in whom deltoid muscle reinnervation was attempted, MRC Grade 3 or 4 function was demonstrated in two (11%). In the overall group, eight patients (15%) exhibited glenohumeral abduction with a mean of 44 ± 17° (standard deviation [SD]) (median 45°) and four patients (8%) exhibited glenohumeral exorotation with a mean of 48 ± 24° (SD) (median 53°). In only three patients (6%) were both functions regained.

Conclusions

The reanimation of shoulder function in patients with proximal C-5 and C-6 BPTIs following supra-scapular nerve neurotization is disappointingly low.

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Anne Bolleboom, Godard C. W. de Ruiter, J. Henk Coert, Bastiaan Tuk, Jan C. Holstege, and Johan W. van Neck

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic neuromas may develop after nerve injury at the proximal nerve stump, which can lead to neuropathic pain. These neuromas are often resistant to therapy, and excision of the neuroma frequently leads to recurrence. In this study, the authors present a novel surgical strategy to prevent neuroma formation based on the principle of centro-central anastomosis (CCA), but rather than directly connecting the nerve ends to an autograft, they created a loop using a 3D-printed polyethylene Y-shaped conduit with an autograft in the distal outlets.

METHODS

The 3D-printed Y-tube with autograft was investigated in a model of rat sciatic nerve transection in which the Y-tube was placed on the proximal sciatic nerve stump and a peroneal graft was placed between the distal outlets of the Y-tube to form a closed loop. This model was compared with a CCA model, in which a loop was created between the proximal tibial and peroneal nerves with a peroneal autograft. Additional control groups consisted of the closed Y-tube and the extended-arm Y-tube. Results were analyzed at 12 weeks of survival using nerve morphometry for the occurrence of neuroma formation and axonal regeneration in plastic semi-thin sections.

RESULTS

Among the different surgical groups, the Y-tube with interposed autograft was the only model that did not result in neuroma formation at 12 weeks of survival. In addition, a 13% reduction in the number of myelinated axons regenerating through the interposed autograft was observed in the Y-tube with autograft model. In the CCA model, the authors also observed a decrease of 17% in the number of myelinated axons, but neuroma formation was present in this model. The closed Y-tube resulted in minimal nerve regeneration inside the tube together with extensive neuroma formation before the entrance of the tube. The extended-arm Y-tube model clearly showed that the majority of the regenerating axons merged into the Y-tube arm, which was connected to the autograft, leaving the extended plastic arm almost empty.

CONCLUSIONS

This pilot study shows that our novel 3D-printed Y-tube model with interposed autograft prevents neuroma formation, making this a promising surgical tool for the management of traumatic neuromas.

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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Mark P. Arts, J. Wolter A. Oosterhuis, Andreas Marinelli, and Wilco C. Peul

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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Martijn J. A. Malessy, Michael J. Yaszemski, Anthony J. Windebank, and Robert J. Spinner

Nerve tubes, guides, or conduits are a promising alternative for autologous nerve graft repair. The first biodegradable empty single lumen or hollow nerve tubes are currently available for clinical use and are being used mostly in the repair of small-diameter nerves with nerve defects of < 3 cm. These nerve tubes are made of different biomaterials using various fabrication techniques. As a result these tubes also differ in physical properties. In addition, several modifications to the common hollow nerve tube (for example, the addition of Schwann cells, growth factors, and internal frameworks) are being investigated that may increase the gap that can be bridged. This combination of chemical, physical, and biological factors has made the design of a nerve conduit into a complex process that demands close collaboration of bioengineers, neuroscientists, and peripheral nerve surgeons. In this article the authors discuss the different steps that are involved in the process of the design of an ideal nerve conduit for peripheral nerve repair.

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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Peer van der Zwaal, and Sven A. Meylaerts

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M. Sarah S. Bovenberg, M. Hannah Degeling, Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Hans K. P. Feirabend, Egbert A. J. F. Lakke, and Carmen L. A. M. Vleggeert-Lankamp

Object

Accuracy of reinnervation is an important factor that determines outcome after nerve injury and repair. Type grouping—the clustering of muscle fibers of the same type after reinnervation—can be used to investigate the accuracy of reinnervation. In this study, the degree of type grouping after crush injury in rats was compared with the clustering of muscle fibers after autografting or single-lumen nerve grafting.

Methods

Twelve weeks after sciatic nerve crush injury in rats, clustering of Type I muscle fibers was analyzed in the target muscle with adenosine 5′-triphosphatase staining. In addition, the number of regenerated axons was determined in the nerve distal to the crush injury. Results were compared with that of the authors' previous study.

Results

Type grouping was more abundant after crush injury than after autograft or single-lumen nerve graft repair.

Conclusions

Crush injury leads to more clustered innervation of muscle fibers, probably because the Schwann cell basal lamina tubes are not interrupted as they are in autograft or artificial nerve graft repair. This finding adds to understanding the processes playing a role in nerve regeneration.