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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.

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Jonathan J. Stone, Nikhil K. Prasad, Pierre Laumonerie, B. Matthew Howe, Kimberly K. Amrami, Jodi M. Carter, Mark E. Jentoft, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Desmoid-type fibromatosis (DTF) presents a therapeutic dilemma. While lacking metastatic potential, it is a locally aggressive tumor with a strong propensity for occurrence near nerve(s) and recurrence following resection. In this study, the authors introduce the association of an occult neuromuscular choristoma (NMC) identified in patients with DTF.

METHODS

After experiencing a case of DTF found to have an occult NMC, the authors performed a retrospective database review of all other cases of biopsy-proven DTF involving the extremities or limb girdles in patients with available MRI data. Two musculoskeletal radiologists with expertise in peripheral nerve imaging reviewed the MRI studies of the eligible cases for evidence of previously unrecognized NMC.

RESULTS

The initial case of a patient with an occult sciatic NMC is described. The database review yielded 40 patients with DTF—18 (45%) in the upper limb and 22 (55%) in the lower limb. Two cases (5%) had MRI findings of NMC associated with the DTF, one in the proximal sciatic nerve and the other in the proximal tibial and sural nerves.

CONCLUSIONS

The coexistence of NMC may be under-recognized in a subset of patients with extremity DTF. This finding poses implications for DTF treatment and the likelihood of recurrence after resection or biopsy. Further study may reveal crucial links between the pathogenesis of NMC and DTF and offer novel therapeutic strategies.