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Andrew K. Chan, Ethan A. Winkler and Line Jacques

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spinal cord stimulation (cSCS) is used to treat pain of the cervical region and upper extremities. Case reports and small series have shown a relatively low risk of complication after cSCS, with only a single reported case of perioperative spinal cord injury in the literature. Catastrophic cSCS-associated spinal cord injury remains a concern as a result of underreporting. To aid in preoperative counseling, it is necessary to establish a minimum rate of spinal cord injury and surgical complication following cSCS.

METHODS

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) is a stratified sample of 20% of all patient discharges from nonfederal hospitals in the United States. The authors identified discharges with a primary procedure code for spinal cord stimulation (ICD-9 03.93) associated with a primary diagnosis of cervical pathology from 2002 to 2011. They then analyzed short-term safety outcomes including the presence of spinal cord injury and neurological, medical, and general perioperative complications and compared outcomes using univariate analysis.

RESULTS

Between 2002 and 2011, there were 2053 discharges for cSCS. The spinal cord injury rate was 0.5%. The rates of any neurological, medical, and general perioperative complications were 1.1%, 1.4%, and 11.7%, respectively. There were no deaths.

CONCLUSIONS

In the largest series of cSCS, the risk of spinal cord injury was higher than previously reported (0.5%). Nonetheless, this procedure remains relatively safe, and physicians may use these data to corroborate the safety of cSCS in an appropriately selected patient population. This may become a key treatment option in an increasingly opioid-dependent, aging population.

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Lipomatous, vascular, and chondromatous benign tumors of the peripheral nerves

Representative cases and review of the literature

Claude-Edouard Châtillon, Marie-Christine Guiot and Line Jacques

Benign peripheral nerve lesions of lipomatous, vascular, and chondromatous origin are very rare. Only one previous case of brachial plexus involvement by such a tumor has been reported. The authors report on their experience with peripheral nerve tumors in three patients and review the available literature on these topics. The three cases discussed include a 44-year-old woman with an intraneural lipoma of the right middle trunk, a 40-year-old woman with an intraneural hemangioma infiltrating the right posterior cord, and a newborn male with a predominantly cartilaginous hamartoma originating from the right C-5 nerve root.

The literature review yielded six previous cases of intraneural lipoma, approximately 50 cases of lipofibromatous hamartoma, 13 cases of intraneural hemangioma, and no previous case of cartilaginous hamartoma originating from a nerve. Intraneural lipomas are well encapsulated, and gross-total resection can be achieved. Lipofibromatous hamartomas are diffusely infiltrative; decompressive debulking and neurolysis is often the most appropriate initial approach for patients with symptomatic lesions. Resection of intraneural hemangiomas can be achieved but may require nerve resection and repair in some cases. Debulking has been reported to provide prolonged symptomatic relief in these lesions, and preoperative embolization and postoperative radiotherapy were beneficial in the case presented here. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first reported case of a cartilaginous hamartoma infiltrating a peripheral nerve. Gross-total resection of symptomatic intraneural lipomas is feasible and apparently curative. The optimal treatment for lipofibromatous hamartomas and vascular and chondromatous lesions of the peripheral nerves is uncertain and should be guided by the severity of symptoms.

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Stephen T. Magill, Marcel Brus-Ramer, Philip R. Weinstein, Cynthia T. Chin and Line Jacques

Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS) is caused by compression of the brachial plexus as it traverses from the thoracic outlet to the axilla. Diagnosing nTOS can be difficult because of overlap with other complex pain and entrapment syndromes. An nTOS diagnosis is made based on patient history, physical exam, electrodiagnostic studies, and, more recently, interpretation of MR neurograms with tractography. Advances in high-resolution MRI and tractography can confirm an nTOS diagnosis and identify the location of nerve compression, allowing tailored surgical decompression. In this report, the authors review the current diagnostic criteria, present an update on advances in MRI, and provide case examples demonstrating how MR neurography (MRN) can aid in diagnosing nTOS. The authors conclude that improved high-resolution MRN and tractography are valuable tools for identifying the source of nerve compression in patients with nTOS and can augment current diagnostic modalities for this syndrome.