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Marc Guenot, Jean Bullier and Marc Sindou

Object. The aims of this study were to construct an animal model of deafferentation of the spinal cord by brachial plexus avulsion and to analyze the effects of subsequent dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) lesions in this model. To this end, the authors measured the clinical and electrophysiological effects of total deafferentation of the cervical dorsal horn in rats and evaluated the clinical efficacy of cervical DREZ lesioning.

Methods. Forty-three Sprague—Dawley rats were subjected to total deafferentation of the right cervical dorsal horn by performing a posterior rhizotomy from C-5 to T-1. The clinical effects of this deafferentation, namely self-directed mutilations consisting of scraping and/or ulceration of the forelimb skin or even autotomy of some forelimb digits, were then evaluated. As soon as some of these clinical signs of pain appeared, the authors performed a microsurgical DREZ rhizotomy ([MDR], microincision along the deafferented DREZ and dorsal horn). Before and after MDR, single-unit recordings were obtained in the deafferented dorsal horn and in the contralateral (healthy) side. The mean frequency of spontaneous discharge from the deafferented dorsal horn neurons was significantly higher than that from the healthy side (36.4 Hz compared with 17.9 Hz, p = 0.03).

After deafferentation, 81.4% of the rats developed clinical signs corresponding to pain following posterior rhizotomy. Among these animals, scraping was observed in 85.7% of cases, ulceration (associated with edema) in 37.1%, and autotomy in 8.5%. These signs appeared a mean 5.7 weeks (range 1–12 weeks) after deafferentation.

Thirteen rats benefited from an MDR; nine (69%) experienced a complete cure, that is, a total resolution of scraping or ulceration (a mean 4.6 weeks after MDR). In contrast, only one of 11 sham-operated animals showed signs of spontaneous recovery (p = 0.01).

Conclusions. These results emphasize the role of the spinal dorsal horn in the genesis of deafferentation pain and suggest that dorsal horn deafferentation by cervical posterior rhizotomy in the rat provides a reliable model of chronic pain due to brachial plexus avulsion and its suppression by MDR.

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Marc Guenot, Jean-Michel Hupe, Patrick Mertens, Alan Ainsworth, Jean Bullier and Marc Sindou

Object. In this paper the authors report on the conception and adjustment of a microelectrode used to obtain unitary recordings in the human spinal cord.

Methods. To overcome the difficulties related to intraoperative pulsations of the spinal cord, the authors opted to use a floating microelectrode. Because the recordings are obtained most often from spontaneous activities, it is difficult, with a single microelectrode, to separate spikes from electrical artifacts that are related to the switching of devices. Consequently, the authors designed a dual microelectrode made of two tungsten-in-glass—attached microelectrodes separated by 300 µm. Because the two electrodes cannot obtain recordings in the same neuron, it is possible to distinguish unambiguously spikes (recorded on one tip) from electrical artifacts (recorded simultaneously on the two tips). The dual microelectrode is 2 cm long, with a 20-µm tip length, and 800 to 1200—Ohms impedance. This microelectrode can be implanted “free hand,” in the dorsal horn, by using a microsurgical forceps under a surgical microscope. The data analysis is performed off-line with spike sorter hardware.

In the dorsal horns in 17 patients who were selected to undergo a dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) rhizotomy to treat various pathological conditions, unitary recordings were obtained using this double microelectrode. The authors recorded 57 neurons in good conditions of stability and isolation.

Conclusions. The microelectrode described in this paper was successfully used to obtain recordings in neurons in more than 85% of the patients. This simplified, floating double microelectrode can therefore be considered for use in microsurgical DREZ rhizotomy to obtain unitary recordings in the human spinal dorsal horn.

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Pierre Bourdillon, Sylvain Rheims, Jean Isnard and Marc Guénot

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Patrick Mertens, Chantal Ghaemmaghami, Lionel Bert, Armand Perret-Liaudet, Marc Guenot, Hussein Naous, Laurent Laganier, Roger Later, Marc Sindou and Bernard Renaud

✓ The aim of this study was to develop, for the first time in the human spinal dorsal horn (DH), an in vivo method for the study of amino acids (AAs).

A microdialysis technique was used to sample AAs in the extracellular fluid of the DH apex in eight patients in whom surgery in the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) was performed. Before making microsurgical lesions, specific concentric-type microdialysis probes were implanted over a 60-minute period in the DREZ and directed to the DH apex (10 implantations). The AA concentrations in the dialysates were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. The concentrations of excitatory AAs (glutamate and aspartate) and inhibitory AAs (γ-aminobutyric acid and glycine) decreased and were stabilized by 45 minutes after probe implantation, whereas the levels of nonneurotransmitter AAs (alanine and threonine) were not stabilized at 60 minutes. The ability of the probe to track the changes of extracellular AAs was demonstrated. Neither intra- nor postoperative microdialysis-related complications were observed (with a follow up of 18 months).

The present study demonstrates that microdialysis can be performed safely in the human DH during DREZ lesioning. Despite technical and analytical limitations related to the intraoperative conditions, this technique offers new possibilities for clinical research on neurotransmitters involved in some relevant pathological states, especially in chronic pain and spasticity.

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Pierre Bourdillon, Claude-Edouard Châtillon, Alexis Moles, Sylvain Rheims, Hélène Catenoix, Alexandra Montavont, Karine Ostrowsky-Coste, Sebastien Boulogne, Jean Isnard and Marc Guénot


Stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) was first developed in the 1950s by Jean Talairach using 2D angiography and a frame-based, orthogonal approach through a metallic grid. Since then, various other frame-based and frameless techniques have been described. In this study the authors sought to compare the traditional orthogonal Talairach 2D angiographic approach with a frame-based 3D robotic procedure that included 3D angiographic interoperative imaging guidance. MRI was used for both procedures during surgery, but MRI preplanning was done only in the robotic 3D technique.


All study patients suffered from drug-resistant focal epilepsy and were treated at the same center by the same neurosurgical team. Fifty patients who underwent the 3D robotic procedure were compared to the same number of historical controls who had previously been successfully treated with the Talairach orthogonal procedure. The effectiveness and absolute accuracy, as well as safety, of the two procedures were compared. Moreover, in the 3D robotic group, the reliability of the preoperative MRI to avoid vascular structures was evaluated by studying the rate of trajectory modification following the coregistration of the intraoperative 3D angiographic data onto the preoperative MRI-based trajectory plans.


Effective accuracy (96.5% vs 13.7%) and absolute accuracy (1.15 mm vs 4.00 mm) were significantly higher in the 3D robotic group than in the Talairach orthogonal group. Both procedures showed excellent safety results (no major complications). The rate of electrode modification after 3D angiography was 43.8%, and it was highest for frontal and insular locations.


The frame-based, 3D angiographic, robotic procedure described here provided better accuracy for SEEG implantations than the traditional Talairach approach. This study also highlights the potential safety advantage of trajectory planning using intraoperative frame-based 3D angiography over preoperative MRI alone.