Olawale A. R. Sulaiman and Tessa Gordon
Functional recovery is disappointing after surgical repair of nerves that are injured far from their target organs and/or after delayed repair. In the former case, a nerve transfer that transects a distal nerve fascicle to innervate denervated targets is one strategy to promote nerve regeneration and functional recovery. An alternate strategy tested in this study is to perform an end-to-side neurorrhaphy to “babysit” (protect) the denervated distal nerve stump at the time of nerve repair and reduce the deleterious effect of chronic denervation on nerve regeneration.
In the hindlimbs of Sprague-Dawley rats, the common peroneal (CP) nerve was transected unilaterally and the distal CP nerve stump inserted through a perineurial window into the intact tibial (TIB) nerve, i.e., CP-TIB end-to-side neurorrhaphy. In the first experiment, TIB nerve motoneurons that had regenerated and/or sprouted axons into the CP nerve within 3 months were stimulated to elicit contractions, and thereafter, identified with retrograde dyes for counting. In the second experiment, the intact TIB nerve was transected and cross-sutured to a 3-month chronically denervated distal CP nerve stump that had either been “protected” by ingrown TIB nerves after CP-TIB neurorrhaphy or remained chronically denervated. Thereafter, the number of retrogradely labeled TIB nerve motoneurons that had regenerated their nerves within 3 months were counted and reinnervated tibialis anterior (TA) muscles weighed.
A mean (± SE) of 231 ± 83 TIB nerve motoneurons grew into the end-to-side CP distal nerve stump with corresponding ankle flexion; 32% regenerated their axons and 24% sprouted axons from the intact TIB nerve, eliciting ankle flexor-extensor co-contraction. In the second experiment, after a 3-month period of TIB nerve regeneration, significantly more TIB motoneurons regenerated their axons into “protected” than “unprotected” CP distal nerve stumps within 3 months (mean 332 ± 43.6 vs 235 ± 39.3 motoneurons) with corresponding and significantly higher numbers of regenerated nerve fibers, resulting in significantly better recovery of reinnervated TA muscle weight.
These experiments in rats demonstrated that delayed nerve repair is more effective when the deleterious effects of chronic denervation of the distal nerve stump are reduced by protecting the nerve stump with ingrowing nerve fibers across an end-to-side insertion of the distal nerve stump into a neighboring intact nerve. Such an end-to-side neurorrhaphy may be invaluable as a means of preventing the atrophy of distal nerve stumps and target organs after chronic denervation, which allows for effective reinnervation of the protected distal nerve stumps and target organs over distance and time.
Joshua A. Hanna, Tyler Scullen, Lora Kahn, Mansour Mathkour, Edna E. Gouveia, Juanita Garces, Leah M. Evans, Georgia Lea, David J. Houghton, Erin Biro, Cuong J. Bui, Olawale A. Sulaiman and Roger D. Smith
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the procedure of choice for Parkinson’s disease (PD). It has been used in PD patients younger than 70 years because of better perceived intra- and postoperative outcomes than in patients 70 years or older. However, previous studies with limited follow-up have demonstrated benefits associated with the treatment of elderly patients. This study aims to evaluate the long-term outcomes in elderly PD patients treated with DBS in comparison with a younger population.
PD patients treated with DBS at the authors’ institution from 2008 to 2014 were divided into 2 groups: 1) elderly patients, defined as having an age at surgery ≥ 70 years, and 2) young patients, defined as those < 70 years at surgery. Functional and medical treatment outcomes were evaluated using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale part III (UPDRS III), levodopa-equivalent daily dose (LEDD), number of daily doses, and number of anti-PD medications. Study outcomes were compared using univariate analyses, 1-sample paired t-tests, and 2-sample t-tests.
A total of 151 patients were studied, of whom 24.5% were ≥ 70 years. The most common preoperative Hoehn and Yahr stages for both groups were 2 and 3. On average, elderly patients had more comorbidities at the time of surgery than their younger counterparts (1 vs 0, p = 0.0001) as well as a higher average LEDD (891 mg vs 665 mg, p = 0.008). Both groups experienced significant decreases in LEDD following surgery (elderly 331.38 mg, p = 0.0001; and young 108.6 mg, p = 0.0439), with a more significant decrease seen in elderly patients (young 108.6 mg vs elderly 331.38 mg, p = 0.0153). Elderly patients also experienced more significant reductions in daily doses (young 0.65 vs elderly 3.567, p = 0.0344). Both groups experienced significant improvements in motor function determined by reductions in UPDRS III scores (elderly 16.29 vs young 12.85, p < 0.0001); however, reductions in motor score between groups were not significant. Improvement in motor function was present for a mean follow-up of 3.383 years postsurgery for the young group and 3.51 years for the elderly group. The average follow-up was 40.6 months in the young group and 42.2 months in the elderly group.
This study found long-term improvements in motor function and medication requirements in both elderly and young PD patients treated with DBS. These outcomes suggest that DBS can be successfully used in PD patients ≥ 70 years. Further studies will expand on these findings.