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Carlos E. Restrepo, Kimberly K. Amrami, Benjamin M. Howe, P. James B. Dyck, Michelle L. Mauermann and Robert J. Spinner

Intraneural perineurioma is a rare, benign slow-growing lesion arising from the perineurial cells that surrounds the peripheral nerve fibers. Typically it presents during childhood and young adulthood as a motor mononeuropathy. MRI plays an essential role in the diagnosis and localization of the lesion, which appears as a fusiform enlargement of the nerve fascicles that enhances intensely with gadolinium. Despite the typical clinical and radiological features, intraneural perineurioma remains largely underdiagnosed because of the lack of familiarity with this entity, but also as a result of technical limitations with conventional MRI that is typically performed as a screening test over a large field of view and without contrast sequences. The purpose of this article is to present the pitfalls and pearls learned from years of experience in the diagnosis and management of this relatively rare condition.

Clinical suspicion and detailed neurological examination followed by high-quality electrophysiological studies (EPS) must lead to an adequate preimaging localization of the lesion and narrowing of the imaging area. The use of high-resolution (3-T) MRI combined with gadolinium administration will allow adequate visualization of the internal anatomy of the nerve and help in differentiating other causes of neuropathy. In cases where the lesion is not recognized but clinical suspicion is high, possible errors must be assessed, including the EPS localization, area of imaging, MRI resolution, and slice thickness.

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Stepan Capek, Kimberly K. Amrami, P. James B. Dyck and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECT

Nerve biopsy is typically performed in distal, noncritical sensory nerves without using imaging to target the more involved regions. The yield of these procedures rarely achieves more than 50%. In selected cases where preoperative evaluation points toward a more localized (usually a more proximal) process, targeted biopsy would likely capture the disease. Synthesis of data obtained from clinical examination, electrophysiological testing, and MRI allows biopsy of a portion of the major mixed nerves safely and efficiently. Herein, experiences with the sciatic nerve are reported and a description of the operative technique is provided.

METHODS

All cases of sciatic nerve biopsy performed between 2000 and 2014 were reviewed. Only cases of fascicular nerve biopsy approached from the buttock or the posterior aspect of the thigh were included. Demographic data, clinical presentation, and the presence of percussion tenderness for each patient were recorded. Reviewed studies included electrodiagnostic tests and imaging. Previous nerve and muscle biopsies were noted. All details of the procedure, final pathology, and its treatment implications were recorded. The complication rate was carefully assessed for temporary as well as permanent complications.

RESULTS

One hundred twelve cases (63 men and 49 women) of sciatic nerve biopsy were performed. Mean patient age was 46.4 years. Seventy-seven (68.8%) patients presented with single lower-extremity symptoms, 16 (14.3%) with bilateral lower-extremity symptoms, and 19 (17%) with generalized symptoms. No patient had normal findings on physical examination. All patients underwent electrodiagnostic studies, the findings of which were abnormal in 110 (98.2%) patients. MRI was available for all patients and was read as pathological in 111 (99.1%). The overall diagnostic yield of biopsy was 84.8% (n = 95). The pathological diagnoses included inflammatory demyelination, perineurioma, nonspecific inflammatory changes, neurolymphomatosis, amyloidosis, prostate cancer, injury neuroma, neuromuscular choristoma, sarcoidosis, vasculitis, hemangiomatosis, arteriovenous malformation, fibrolipomatous hamartoma (lipomatosis of nerve), and cervical adenocarcinoma. The series included 11 (9.9%) temporary and 5 (4.5%) permanent complications: 3 patients (2.7%) reported permanent numbness in the peroneal division distribution, and 2 patients (1.8%) were diagnosed with neuromuscular choristoma that developed desmoid tumor at the biopsy site 3 and 8 years later.

CONCLUSIONS

Targeted fascicular biopsy of the sciatic nerve is a safe and efficient diagnostic procedure, and in highly selected cases can be offered as the initial procedure over distal cutaneous nerve biopsy. Diagnoses were very diverse and included entities considered very rare. Even for the more prevalent diagnoses, the biopsy technique allowed a more targeted approach with a higher diagnostic yield and justification for more aggressive treatment. In this series, new radiological patterns of some entities were identified, which could be biopsied less frequently.

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Pierre Laumonerie, Stepan Capek, Kimberly K. Amrami, P. James B. Dyck and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Nerve biopsy is useful in the management of neuromuscular disorders and is commonly performed in distal, noncritical cutaneous nerves. In general, these procedures are diagnostic in only 20%–50%. In selected cases in which preoperative evaluation points toward a more localized process, targeted biopsy would likely improve diagnostic yield. The authors report their experience with targeted fascicular biopsy of the brachial plexus and provide a description of the operative technique.

METHODS

All cases of targeted biopsy of the brachial plexus biopsy performed between 2003 and 2015 were reviewed. Targeted nerve biopsy was performed using a supraclavicular, infraclavicular, or proximal medial arm approach. Demographic data and clinical presentation as well as the details of the procedure, adverse events (temporary or permanent), and final pathological findings were recorded.

RESULTS

Brachial plexus biopsy was performed in 74 patients (47 women and 27 men). The patients' mean age was 57.7 years. All patients had abnormal findings on physical examination, electrodiagnostic studies, and MRI. The overall diagnostic yield of biopsy was 74.3% (n = 55). The most common diagnoses included inflammatory demyelination (19), breast carcinoma (17), neurolymphomatosis (8), and perineurioma (7). There was a 19% complication rate; most of the complications were minor or transient, but 4 patients (5.4%) had increased numbness and 3 (4.0%) had additional weakness following biopsy.

CONCLUSIONS

Targeted fascicular biopsy of the brachial plexus is an effective diagnostic procedure, and in highly selected cases should be considered as the initial procedure over nontargeted, distal cutaneous nerve biopsy. Using MRI to guide the location of a fascicular biopsy, the authors found this technique to produce a higher diagnostic yield than historical norms as well as providing justification for definitive treatment.