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Krishna Kumar, Rahul Nath, and Gordon M. Wyant

✓ Epidural spinal cord stimulation by means of chronically implanted electrodes was carried out on 121 patients with pain of varied benign organic etiology. In 116 patients, the pain was confined to the back and lower extremities and, of these, 56 exhibited the failed-back syndrome. Most patients were referred by a pain management service because of failure of conventional pain treatment modalities. Electrodes were implanted at varying sites, dictated by the location of pain. A total of 140 epidural implants were used: 76 unipolar, 46 Resume electrodes, 12 bipolar, and six quadripolar. Patients were followed for periods ranging from 6 months to 10 years, with a mean follow-up period of 40 months. Forty-eight patients (40%) were able to control their pain by neurostimulation alone. A further 14 patients (12%), in addition to following a regular stimulation program, needed occasional analgesic supplements to achieve 50% or more relief of the prestimulation pain. Pain secondary to arachnoiditis or perineural fibrosis following multiple intervertebral disc operations, when predominantly confined to one lower extremity, seemed to respond favorably to this treatment. Uniformly good results were also obtained in lower-extremity pain secondary to multiple sclerosis. Pain due to advanced peripheral vascular disease of the lower limbs was well controlled, and amputation below the knee was delayed for up to 2 years in some patients. Pain due to cauda equina injury, paraplegic pain, phantom-limb pain, pure midline back pain without radiculopathy, or pain due to primary bone or joint disease seemed to respond less well. Patients who responded to preliminary transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation generally did well with electrode implants. Notable complications included wound infection, electrode displacement or fracturing, and fibrosis at the stimulating tip of the electrode. Three patients in this series died due to unrelated causes. Epidural spinal cord stimulation has proven to be an effective and safe means of controlling pain on a long-term basis in selected groups of patients.

The mechanism of action of stimulation-produced analgesia remains unclear; further studies to elucidate it might allow spinal cord stimulation to be exploited more effectively in disorders that are currently refractory to this treatment modality.

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Krishna Kumar, Cory Toth, Rahul K. Nath, Ashok K. Verma, and John J. Burgess

✓ Spinal cord stimulation was used in 46 patients for pain associated with lower extremity ischemic vascular disease that was considered to be nonreconstructable. Thirty-nine patients who had a follow-up examination between 2 and 36 months after the procedure form the basis of this report. Thirty (77%) of 39 cases were considered successful. Clinical endpoints indicating failure included amputation, vascular reconstruction, poor pain relief, or hardware malfunction. The transcutaneous partial pressure of oxygen (TcPO2) increased in both target and control feet. In patients with good outcome with a preimplantation TcPO2 of less than 30 mm Hg, TcPO2 increased significantly (p < 0.05). Pulse volume recording improved significantly (p < 0.05) at the thigh, metatarsal, and great toe levels in successfully treated patients. Peak blood flow velocity also showed a significant increase in patients with good outcome (p < 0.05). Patients with a TcPO2 of less than 10 mm Hg following stimulation tended to undergo amputation within the first 3 months.

Improvement in pain control, combined with an increase in TcPO2 values that was greater than 10 mm Hg, were significant early predictors of long-term success. An initial increase in peak blood flow velocities (measured in Doppler studies) of greater than 10 mm also signified a good long-term outcome. Spinal cord stimulation appears to be a useful therapeutic modality for controlling pain and improving perfusion in a select group of patients with end-stage ischemic vascular disease considered nonreconstructable. The best results were seen in patients with severe claudication and rest pain without trophic changes in the foot. The mechanism of this beneficial effect is not yet completely understood.

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Krishna Kumar, Rahul K. Nath, C. P. V. Nair, and S. P. Tchang

✓ The authors present a case of thoracic spinal cord compression secondary to epidural lipomatosis in an obese patient. This patient represents the 10th case of epidural lipomatosis secondary to simple obesity reported in the literature. The diagnosis is based on three criteria: 1) medical history and physical examination consistent with segmental spinal cord compression; 2) epidural fat thickness greater than 7 mm in the region of compression, based on magnetic resonance imaging (preferred) or computerized tomographic imaging; and 3) a height-to-weight ratio greater than 27.5 kg/m2. This specific correlation between epidural fat thickness measurement and calculation of height-to-weight ratio has not previously been reported.

Surgical decompression through a posterior laminectomy and excision of excess epidural fat resulted in immediate reversal of the patient's symptoms. Knowledge of the association of epidural lipomatomis with obesity in the absence of glucocorticoid imbalance is important in discerning what may be an underrecognized syndrome.

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David S. Hersh, Rahul Kumar, Kenneth A. Moore, Luke G. F. Smith, Christopher L. Tinkle, Jason Chiang, Zoltan Patay, Amar Gajjar, Asim F. Choudhri, Jorge A. Lee-Diaz, Brandy Vaughn, and Paul Klimo Jr.


Biopsies of brainstem lesions are performed to establish a diagnosis in the setting of an atypical clinical or radiological presentation, or to facilitate molecular studies. A better understanding of the safety and diagnostic yield of brainstem biopsies would help guide appropriate patient selection.


All patients who underwent biopsy of a brainstem lesion during the period from January 2011 to June 2019 were reviewed. Demographic, radiological, surgical, and outcome data were collected.


A total of 58 patients underwent 65 brainstem biopsies during the study period. Overall, the median age was 7.6 years (IQR 3.9–14.2 years). Twenty-two of the 65 biopsies (34%) were open, 42 (65%) were stereotactic, and 1 was endoscopic. In 3 cases (5%), a ventriculoperitoneal shunt was placed, and in 9 cases (14%), a posterior fossa decompression was performed during the same operative session as the biopsy. An intraoperative MRI (iMRI) was performed in 28 cases (43%). In 3 of these cases (11%), the biopsy was off target and additional samples were obtained during the same procedure. New neurological deficits were noted in 5 cases (8%), including sensory deficits, ophthalmoparesis/nystagmus, facial weakness, and hearing loss; these deficits persisted in 2 cases and were transient in 3 cases. A pseudomeningocele occurred in 1 patient; no patients developed a CSF leak or infection. In 8 cases (13%) an additional procedure was needed to obtain a diagnosis.


Brainstem biopsies are safe and effective. Target selection and approach should be a collaborative effort. iMRI can be used to assess biopsy accuracy in real time, thereby allowing any adjustment if necessary.