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Marc Sindou, Jean-François Mazoyer, Georges Fischer, Jean Pialat and Claude Fourcade

✓ Bypasses of the sagittal sinus, 2.5 mm in diameter, were carried out in 25 dogs with venous (13 cases) and arterial (12 cases) autogenous grafts, by classical microtechniques. Animals were sacrificed 10 to 75 days after the operation, average 40 days. The patency rate was 54% in the venous autograft group; in all cases, thrombosis occurred early and was due to technical factors. The immediate postoperative patency rate was 100% in the arterial graft group, but this type of graft showed a tendency to progressive occlusion because of extensive fibrosis of the arterial wall; thus the patency rate was 75% at the time of autopsy. This preliminary work demonstrates the technical feasibility of bypass procedure which could be used for sagittal sinus repair.

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Marc P. Sindou and Jean-Luc Fobé

✓ Improved access to the tentorial notch can be obtained by removal of the roof of the external auditory meatus in association with a low temporal craniotomy. This approach decreases temporal lobe retraction and the risk of venous infarction. This method was perfected in the surgical laboratory on five cadavers and was successfully performed in a patient with a giant aneurysm of the posterior cerebral artery.

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Daniel Jeanmonod and Marc Sindou

✓ The goal of this study was to assess the effects of the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) lesioning procedure, microsurgical DREZ-otomy (MDT), on spinal cord somatosensory function based on peri- and intraoperative clinical and electrophysiological data. The study was performed prospectively on a series of 20 patients suffering from either chronic neurogenic pain or spasticity. Physiological observations were made of the intraoperative evoked electrospinographic recordings as collected from the surface of the spinal cord.

The MDT procedure produced analgesia or severe hypalgesia, moderate hypesthesia, and only slight deficits in proprioception and cutaneous spatial discrimination on the body segments operated on. These clinical data correlated well with evoked electrospinographic recordings, which showed a moderate effect of MDT on presynaptic compound action potentials recorded from the spinal cord (N11 and N21), a partial or even reversible effect on the cortical postcentral N20 wave, a more marked effect on the postsynaptic dorsal horn waves N13 and N24 related to large primary afferent fibers, and a disappearance of dorsal horn waves related to finer afferents (N2 and possibly N3). These data provide evidence for an acceptably selective action of MDT on spinal cord nociceptive mechanisms, and for a partial, often slight, involvement of the other somatosensory domains. The presence of abnormal evoked electrospinographic waves is discussed in relation to the mechanisms of neurogenic pain and spasticity. The hypothesis of a “retuning” of the dorsal horn as the mode of action of MDT is presented.

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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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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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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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Jorge E. Alvernia and Marc P. Sindou

Object. To understand the cause and prevention of postoperative ischemic and/or venous parenchymal infarcts after intracranial meningioma resection, the authors describe the value of neuroimaging in predicting the surgical plane of cleavage.

Methods. A prospective study of 100 meningiomas was performed, in which tumor size, absence or presence of peritumoral edema, tumor—parenchyma interface, and types of arterial vascularization (that is, dural—meningeal, pial—cortical, or mixed) were correlated with the type of dissection plane (extrapial, subpial, or mixed) encountered at surgery. A direct correlation was found between the tumor size identified on T1-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging sequences and the degree of subpial (nonextrapial) surgical plane of cleavage (p < 0.00001). A similar correlation was found with the grade of peritumoral edema identified on preoperative computerized tomography (CT) scanning (p < 0.0001) or T2-weighted MR imaging sequences (p < 0.00001) and tumor pial vascularization as seen on angiography (p < 0.0001). Nevertheless, the tumor—parenchyma interface on preoperative T2-weighted MR imaging sequences was not predictive of the surgical plane (p > 0.5). The worst clinical outcome was found in the tumors located in eloquent areas and in which a subpial plane was encountered at surgery (p = 0.03).

Conclusions. Peritumoral edema on preoperative CT and MR studies and tumor pial vascularization as seen on selective angiography can be used to predict the surgical plane of cleavage in meningiomas. The association between tumor size and a subpial surgical plane may be explained by a more pial vascularization seen on angiography. Meningiomas with a location in eloquent cortex and a subpial dissection plane should be considered a high-risk group.

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Marc P. Sindou, Eric Blondet, Evelyne Emery and Patrick Mertens

Object. Most patients with preganglionic lesions after brachial plexus injuries suffer pain that is hard to control through medication or neuromodulation. Lesioning in the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) is undeniably effective. Fifty-five patients who had undergone the so-called microsurgical DREZotomy (MDT) procedure were studied with the two following objectives: 1) to describe the anatomical lesions observed during MDT in correlation with sensory deficits and pain features; and 2) to analyze the results in the 44 patients who were followed for more than 1 year (mean 6 years).

Methods. The observed lesions were severe: 79.6% of ventral and 78.2% of dorsal roots from C5—T1 were impaired. Damage extended to all five roots in 42% of patients. Strong arachnoiditis was present in 38.2%, pseudomeningoceles in 31%, spinal cord distortion and/or atrophy in 49%, and abundant gliotic tissue and/or microcavitations within the dorsal horn at the avulsed segments in 36.4% of cases. Sensory deficit corresponded to the entire territory of the dorsal root lesions in 52% of patients, but was larger in 30% most certainly due to the associated extrarachidian lesions. At the last evaluation after MDT, 66% of patients showed excellent (total relief without medication) or good (total relief with medication) pain relief and 71% experienced an improvement in activity level.

Conclusions. Apart from other indications not addressed in this article, MDT can be performed to treat refractory pain due to brachial plexus avulsions. The long-term efficacy of this procedure strongly indicates that pain after brachial plexus avulsion originates from the deafferented (and gliotic) dorsal horn.