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Chandan G. Reddy, Oliver E. Flouty, Marshall T. Holland, Leigh A. Rettenmaier, Mario Zanaty and Foad Elahi

OBJECTIVE

Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) has been used for the treatment of neuropathic pain for many decades. Despite the specific indications for PNS, clinicians often have difficulty screening for candidates likely to have a good or fair outcome. Given the expense of a permanent implant, most insurance companies will not pay for the implant without a successful PNS trial. And since PNS has only recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, many insurance companies will not pay for a conventional trial of PNS. The objective of this study is to describe a short low-cost method for trialing and screening patients for peripheral nerve stimulator implantation. Additionally, this study demonstrates the long-term efficacy of PNS in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain and the relative effectiveness of this novel screening method.

METHODS

The records of all patients who had undergone trialing and implantation of a PNS system for chronic refractory pain at the authors' institution over a 1-year period (August 1, 2012–July 31, 2013) were examined in this retrospective case series. The search revealed 17 patients, 13 who had undergone a novel in-office ultrasonography-guided StimuCath screening technique and 4 who had undergone a traditional week-long screening procedure. All 17 patients experienced a successful PNS trial and proceeded to permanent PNS system implantation. Patients were followed up for a mean duration of 3.0 years. Visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores were used to assess pain relief in the short-term (< 6 weeks), at 1 year, and at the last follow-up. Final outcome was also characterized as good, fair, poor, or bad.

RESULTS

Of these 17 patients, 10 were still using their stimulator at the last follow-up, with 8 of them obtaining good relief (classified as ≥ 50% pain relief, with an average 81% reduction in the VAS score) and 2 patients attaining fair relief (< 50% relief but still using stimulation therapy). Among the remaining 7 patients, the stimulator had been explanted in 4 and there had been no relief in 3. Excluding explanted cases, follow-up ranged from 14 to 46 months, with an average of 36 months. Patients with good or fair relief had experienced pain prior to implantation for an average of 5.1 years (range 1.8–15.2 years). A longer duration of pain trended toward a poorer outcome (bad outcome 7.6 years vs good outcome 4.1 years, p = 0.03). Seven (54%) of the 13 patients with the shorter trial experienced a good or fair outcome with an average 79% reduction in the VAS score; however, all 4 of the bad outcome cases came from this group. Three (75%) of the 4 patients with the longer trial experienced a good or fair outcome at the last follow-up, with an average 54% reduction in the VAS score. There was no difference between the trialing methods and the proportion of favorable (good or fair) outcomes (p = 0.71).

CONCLUSIONS

Short, ultrasonography-guided StimuCath trials were feasible in screening patients for permanent implantation of PNS, with efficacy similar to the traditional week-long screening noted at the 3-year follow-up.

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Ralph G. Dacey, Oliver E. Flouty, M. Sean Grady, Matthew A. Howard III and Marc R. Mayberg

OBJECTIVE

When performing ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery it is necessary to create a subgaleal pocket that is of sufficient size to accommodate a shunt valve. In most cases the valve is placed over the posterior skull where the galea begins to transition to suboccipital neck fascia. Dense fibrous attachments in this region of the skull make it technically awkward to develop the subgaleal valve pocket using standard scissors and a blunt dissection technique. In this report the authors describe a new device that enables surgeons to create the shunt valve pocket by using a simple semi-sharp dissection technique.

METHODS

The authors analyzed the deficiencies of the standard valve pocket dissection technique and designed shunt scissors that address the identified shortcomings. These new scissors allow the surgeon to sharply dissect the subgaleal space by using an efficient hand-closing maneuver.

RESULTS

Standard surgical scissors were modified to create shunt scissors that were tested on the benchtop and used in the operating room. In all cases the shunt scissors proved easy to use and allowed the efficient and reliable creation of a subgaleal valve pocket in a technically pleasing manner.

CONCLUSIONS

Shunt scissors represent an incremental technical advance in the field of neurosurgical shunt operations.

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Kingsley O. Abode-Iyamah, Hsiu-Yin Chiang, Nolan Winslow, Brian Park, Mario Zanaty, Brian J. Dlouhy, Oliver E. Flouty, Zachary D. Rasmussen, Loreen A. Herwaldt and Jeremy D. Greenlee

OBJECTIVE

Craniectomy is often performed to decrease intracranial pressure following trauma and vascular injuries. The subsequent cranioplasty procedures may be complicated by surgical site infections (SSIs) due to prior trauma, foreign implants, and multiple surgeries through a common incision. Several studies have found that intrawound vancomycin powder (VP) is associated with decreased risk of SSIs after spine operations. However, no previously published study has evaluated the effectiveness of VP in cranioplasty procedures. The purpose of this study was to determine whether intrawound VP is associated with decreased risk of SSIs, to evaluate VP’s safety, and to identify risk factors for SSIs after cranioplasty among patients undergoing first-time cranioplasty.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of adult patients undergoing first-time cranioplasty for indications other than infections from January 1, 2008, to July 31, 2014, at an academic health center. Data on demographics, possible risk factors for SSIs, and treatment with VP were collected from the patients’ electronic health records.

RESULTS

During the study period, 258 patients underwent first-time cranioplasties, and 15 (5.8%) of these patients acquired SSIs. Ninety-two patients (35.7%) received intrawound VP (VP group) and 166 (64.3%) did not (no-VP group). Patients in the VP group and the no-VP group were similar with respect to age, sex, smoking history, body mass index, and SSI rates (VP group 6.5%, no-VP group 5.4%, p = 0.72). Patients in the VP group were less likely than those in the no-VP group to have undergone craniectomy for tumors and were more likely to have an American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status score > 2. Intrawound VP was not associated with other postoperative complications. Risk factors for SSI from the bivariable analyses were diabetes (odds ratio [OR] 3.65, 95% CI 1.07–12.44), multiple craniotomy procedures before the cranioplasty (OR 4.39, 95% CI 1.47–13.18), prior same-side craniotomy (OR 4.73, 95% CI 1.57–14.24), and prosthetic implants (OR 4.51, 95% CI 1.40–14.59). The multivariable analysis identified prior same-side craniotomy (OR 3.37, 95% CI 1.06–10.79) and prosthetic implants (OR 3.93, 95% CI 1.15–13.40) as significant risk factors for SSIs. After adjusting for potential confounders, patients with SSIs were more likely than those without SSIs to be readmitted (OR 7.28, 95% CI 2.07–25.60).

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, intrawound VP was not associated with a decreased risk of SSIs or with an increased risk of complications. Prior same-side craniotomy and prosthetic implants were risk factors for SSI after first-time cranioplasty.