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Kimberly S. Harbaugh, Robert L. Tiel and David G. Kline

✓ Despite their benign histological appearance and the current literature composed primarily of case reports with favorable outcomes, ganglion cysts involving peripheral nerves (GCPNs) can cause permanent neurological deficits. The authors present a 27-year Louisiana State University Medical Center (LSUMC) experience with the surgical management of GCPNs. From 1968 to 1995, 27 patients were surgically treated for 27 cysts that involved nerves at nine locations. Cysts of the peroneal nerve were the most common, comprising 52% of the cases. Motor deficit, pain, and sensory changes were present in 83%, 78%, and 48% of cases, respectively. A history of acute trauma was noted in 22%. The mean follow-up duration in these cases was 61 months. Motor recovery was good in only 58% of cases and was related to the severity of the preoperative motor deficit. Pain resolved or was significantly improved in 89% of cases. Five patients underwent nine procedures before referral to LSUMC for treatment of recurrence of their ganglion cysts. None of these patients suffered recurrence after undergoing surgery at LSUMC. However, four additional patients (17%) experienced a total of six recurrences after undergoing their initial procedure. The mean time to recurrence for the patient group as a whole was 16 months. On the basis of their experience, the authors conclude that GCPNs can behave in an aggressive fashion. Patients should be counseled preoperatively about the potential for limited motor recovery and a significant chance for recurrence.

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Kimberly Harbaugh, Patricia Smith and Javad Towfighi

✓Schwannomatosis is the most recently recognized form of neurofibromatosis in which patients harbor multiple non–vestibular nerve schwannomas. The diagnosis is contingent on excluding neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), to which it is related. The authors present a case of schwannomatosis diagnosed fortuitously when a preoperative magnetic resonance (MR) image of a pelvic schwannoma was suggestive of a lesion in the lower lumbar canal. Definitive studies confirmed the presence of multiple spinal tumors including a thoracic schwannoma, which was removed during a subsequent procedure. This case emphasizes the need to consider the possibility of multiple tumors in every patient presenting with a schwannoma because the follow-up and genetic counseling are vastly different in those with NF2 and schwannomatosis compared with those harboring sporadic tumors. Details of this case and current considerations in the diagnosis and management of schwannomatosis are discussed.

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Marin B. Marinov, Kimberly S. Harbaugh, P. Jack Hoopes, Harold J. Pikus and Robert E. Harbaugh

✓ The known cytoprotective properties of MgSO4 led the authors to study its effects on infarct size in rats when administered intraarterially before reversible focal ischemia. Following an intracarotid infusion of MgSO4 in the amount of 30 mg/kg (24 animals), 90 mg/kg (18 animals), or an equal volume of vehicle (23 animals), middle cerebral artery occlusion was produced in rats by means of an intraluminal suture technique. Reperfusion occurred after 1.5 (42 animals) or 2 hours (23 animals) of ischemia.

Automated, volumetric measurements of 2′,3′,5′-triphenyl-2H-tetrazolium chloride—stained coronal brain sections demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in infarct size for MgSO4 treatment groups compared to controls. Cytoprotection was greater in animals subjected to 1.5 hours of ischemia (28.4% reduction in infarct volume, p ≤ 0.001, Student's t-test), than in those having 2 hours of ischemia (19.3% reduction, p < 0.05). Animals given 90 mg/kg MgSO4 prior to 1.5 hours of ischemia (12 animals) showed a 59.8% reduction in infarct volume compared to controls (11 animals, p < 0.001) and a 43.1% reduction compared to the 30 mg/kg group (11 animals, p < 0.001). Analysis of variance demonstrated the statistically significant effects of MgSO4 doses on infarct volume across all groups (F = 22.95, p < 0.0001).

The neuroprotective effect of intraarterial MgSO4 in this model is robust, dose dependent, and related to the duration of ischemia. The compound may be valuable for limiting infarction if given intraarterially before induction of reversible ischemia during cerebrovascular surgery.

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Russell Payne, Zeinab Nasralah, Emily Sieg, Elias B. Rizk, Michael Glantz and Kimberly Harbaugh

OBJECTIVE

A thorough understanding of anatomy is critical for successful carpal tunnel release. Several texts depict the median nerve (MN) as taking a course parallel to the long axis of the forearm (LAF). The authors report on their attempt to formally assess the course of the MN as it travels to the carpal tunnel in the distal wrist and discuss its potential clinical significance.

METHODS

The width of the wrist, the distance from the radial wrist to the MN, and the distance from the distal volar wrist crease to the point where the MN emerges between the flexor carpi radialis (FCR) tendon and the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) tendons were recorded during cadaveric dissection of 76 wrist specimens. The presence or absence of palmaris longus was documented. Finally, the angles between the MN and FCR tendon and between the MN and the LAF were measured using ImageJ.

RESULTS

The relative position of the MN at the distal wrist crease, as determined by the ratio of the distance from the MN to the radial wrist divided by wrist width, revealed a mean value of 0.48, indicating that the nerve was usually located just radial to midline. The mean distance between the distal wrist crease and the MN's emergence was 34.6 mm. The mean angle between the MN and the FCR tendon was 14.1°. The angle between the MN and the LAF had a mean value of 8.8° (range 0.0°–32.2°). The nerve was parallel to the LAF in only 10.7% of the studied wrists. Palmaris longus was absent in 14 (18.4%) of the 76 wrists.

CONCLUSIONS

The MN takes an angular approach to the carpal tunnel in the distal wrist in the vast majority of cases. This newly described finding will be useful to both clinicians and anatomists.

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Sharon Rivas, G. Logan Douds, Roger H. Ostdahl and Kimberly S. Harbaugh

✓ Fulminant Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rapidly progressive form of polyneuropathy in which patients demonstrate eventual flaccid quadriplegia and an absence of brainstem function. Most patients present after a mild upper respiratory or gastrointestinal illness and have nondiagnostic cerebral imaging studies. The authors present a case of fulminant GBS that developed in a 55-year-old alcoholic man 1 week after admission for a closed head injury. The details of this case and a discussion of GBS will be presented. This case provides evidence for combined central and peripheral nervous system involvement in severe cases of GBS. Recognition of fulminant GBS is important to prevent inappropriate declaration of brain death or withdrawal of support in the face of a potentially reversible process.

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Russell Payne, Jennifer Baccon, John Dossett, David Scollard, Debra Byler, Akshal Patel and Kimberly Harbaugh

Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, is a chronic infectious disease with many manifestations. Though still a major health concern and leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the developing world, it is rare in the United States, with only about 150 cases reported each year. Nevertheless, it is imperative that neurosurgeons consider it in the differential diagnosis of neuropathy.

The causative organism is Mycobacterium leprae, which infects and damages Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system, leading first to sensory and then to motor deficits. A rare presentation of Hansen’s disease is pure neuritic leprosy. It is characterized by nerve involvement without the characteristic cutaneous stigmata. The authors of this report describe a case of pure neuritic leprosy presenting as ulnar nerve neuropathy with corresponding radiographic, electrodiagnostic, and histopathological data.

This 11-year-old, otherwise healthy male presented with progressive right-hand weakness and numbness with no cutaneous abnormalities. Physical examination and electrodiagnostic testing revealed findings consistent with a severe ulnar neuropathy at the elbow. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed diffuse thickening and enhancement of the ulnar nerve and narrowing at the cubital tunnel. The patient underwent ulnar nerve decompression with biopsy. Pathology revealed acid-fast organisms within the nerve, which was pathognomonic for Hansen’s disease. He was started on antibiotic therapy, and on follow-up he had improved strength and sensation in the ulnar nerve distribution.

Pure neuritic leprosy, though rare in the United States, should be considered in the differential diagnosis of those presenting with peripheral neuropathy and a history of travel to leprosy-endemic areas. The long incubation period of M. leprae, the ability of leprosy to mimic other conditions, and the low sensitivity of serological tests make clinical, electrodiagnostic, and radiographic evaluation necessary for diagnosis. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is imperative to prevent permanent neurological injury.

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Russell Payne, Oliver D. Mrowczynski, Becky Slagle-Webb, Alexandre Bourcier, Christine Mau, Dawit Aregawi, Achuthamangalam B. Madhankumar, Sang Y. Lee, Kimberly Harbaugh, James Connor and Elias B. Rizk

OBJECTIVE

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are soft-tissue sarcomas arising from peripheral nerves. MPNSTs have increased expression of the oncogene aurora kinase A, leading to enhanced cellular proliferation. This makes them extremely aggressive with high potential for metastasis and a devastating prognosis; 5-year survival estimates range from a dismal 15% to 60%. MPNSTs are currently treated with resection (sometimes requiring limb amputation) in combination with chemoradiation, both of which demonstrate limited effectiveness. The authors present the results of immunohistochemical, in vitro, and in vivo analyses of MLN8237 for the treatment of MPNSTs in an orthoxenograft murine model.

METHODS

Immunohistochemistry was performed on tumor sections to confirm the increased expression of aurora kinase A. Cytotoxicity analysis was then performed on an MPNST cell line (STS26T) to assess the efficacy of MLN8237 in vitro. A murine orthoxenograft MPNST model transfected to express luciferase was then developed to assess the efficacy of aurora kinase A inhibition in the treatment of MPNSTs in vivo. Mice with confirmed tumor on in vivo imaging were divided into 3 groups: 1) controls, 2) mice treated with MLN8237, and 3) mice treated with doxorubicin/ifosfamide. Treatment was carried out for 32 days, with imaging performed at weekly intervals until postinjection day 42. Average bioluminescence among groups was compared at weekly intervals using 1-way ANOVA. A survival analysis was performed using Kaplan-Meier curves.

RESULTS

Immunohistochemical analysis showed robust expression of aurora kinase A in tumor cells. Cytotoxicity analysis revealed STS26T susceptibility to MLN8237 in vitro. The group receiving treatment with MLN8237 showed a statistically significant difference in tumor size compared with the control group starting at postinjection day 21 and persisting until the end of the study. The MLN8237 group also showed decreased tumor size compared with the doxorubicin/ifosfamide group at the conclusion of the study (p = 0.036). Survival analysis revealed a significantly increased median survival in the MLN8237 group (83 days) compared with both the control (64 days) and doxorubicin/ifosfamide (67 days) groups. A hazard ratio comparing the 2 treatment groups showed a decreased hazard rate in the MLN8237 group compared with the doxorubicin/ifosfamide group (HR 2.945; p = 0.0134).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study demonstrate that MLN8237 is superior to combination treatment with doxorubicin/ifosfamide in a preclinical orthoxenograft murine model. These data have major implications for the future of MPNST research by providing a robust murine model as well as providing evidence that MLN8237 may be an effective treatment for MPNSTs.

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Oliver D. Mrowczynski, Russell A. Payne, Alexandre J. Bourcier, Christine Y. Mau, Becky Slagle-Webb, Ganesh Shenoy, Achuthamangalam B. Madhankumar, Stephan B. Abramson, Darren Wolfe, Kimberly S. Harbaugh, Elias B. Rizk and James R. Connor

OBJECTIVE

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are aggressive soft tissue sarcomas that harbor a high potential for metastasis and have a devastating prognosis. Combination chemoradiation aids in tumor control and decreases tumor recurrence but causes deleterious side effects and does not extend long-term survival. An effective treatment with limited toxicity and enhanced efficacy is critical for patients suffering from MPNSTs.

METHODS

The authors recently identified that interleukin-13 receptor alpha 2 (IL-13Rα2) is overexpressed on MPNSTs and could serve as a precision-based target for delivery of chemotherapeutic agents. In the work reported here, a recombinant fusion molecule consisting of a mutant human IL-13 targeting moiety and a point mutant variant of Pseudomonas exotoxin A (IL-13.E13 K-PE4E) was utilized to treat MPNST in vitro in cell culture and in an in vivo murine model.

RESULTS

IL-13.E13 K-PE4E had a potent cytotoxic effect on MPNST cells in vitro. Furthermore, intratumoral administration of IL-13.E13 K-PE4E to orthotopically implanted MPNSTs decreased tumor burden 6-fold and 11-fold in late-stage and early-stage MPNST models, respectively. IL-13.E13 K-PE4E treatment also increased survival by 23 days in the early-stage MPNST model.

CONCLUSIONS

The current MPNST treatment paradigm consists of 3 prongs: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, none of which, either singly or in combination, are curative or extend survival to a clinically meaningful degree. The results presented here provide the possibility of intratumoral therapy with a potent and highly tumor-specific cytotoxin as a fourth treatment prong with the potential to yield improved outcomes in patients with MPNSTs.