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Giovanni La Rosa, Domenico d'Avella, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Fabio Cacciola, Marcello Longo and Francesco Tomasello

Spinal epidural hematomas (SEHs) are uncommon complications caused by traumatic injuries to the spine. Emergency surgical evacuation is the standard treatment. Although recognized in the literature, the possibility of nonsurgical treatment of traumatic SEHs is far from being codified. The authors report on the treatment of four patients whose traumatic SEHs were diagnosed by magnetic resonance (MRI) imaging and managed conservatively with excellent results.

All patients had suffered severe spine injury with fracture of a lumbar vertebral body, were admitted within 12 hours of trauma, and exhibited only minimal neurological disturbances on admission. Magnetic resonance imaging studies were performed within 24 hours of trauma. Hematomas appeared isointense/slightly hyperintense on T1- and heterogeneous on T2-weighted MR images. Clot thickness varied between 0.8 cm and 1 cm, width between 1 cm and 1.8 cm, and length between 2.7 and 9 cm. In light of each patient's fairly good neurological condition a conservative approach was taken. In all cases serial MR imaging documented progressive clot resolution, which was completed within 8 to 10 days of trauma. At discharge all patients were neurologically intact.

The conservative treatment option of traumatic SEH should be reserved for exceptional cases whose deficits are minimal, when neurological deterioration is followed by early and sustained spontaneous recovery, and when there are clear medical contraindications for surgery. The results of the present study confirm that nonsurgical treatment is feasible in a subgroup of minimally symptomatic patients who harbor moderate-sized SEHs. Although the authors' experience shows a good spontaneous outcome of some traumatic SEH, further studies are necessary to understand the real spectrum of nonsurgical treatment of such lesions.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Domenico d'Avella, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Fabio Cacciola, Marcello Longo and Francesco Tomasello

✓ Spinal epidural hematomas (SEHs) are uncommon complications of traumatic injury to the spine. Emergency surgical evacuation is the standard treatment. Although it is recognized in the literature, the possibility of nonsurgical treatment of traumatic SEH is far from being codified. The authors report excellent outcomes in four conservatively managed patients who had sustained a severe spine injury with fracture of the lumbar vertebral body and in whom traumatic SEHs were diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging. Although in the authors' experience a good spontaneous outcome in this subgroup of minimally symptomatic patients harboring moderate-sized SEHs has been achieved, further studies are necessary to understand the real spectrum of nonsurgical treatment of such lesions.

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Domenico Gerardo Iacopino, Maria Giusa, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali and Francesco Tomasello

The authors describe a case of spinal arteriovenous fistula (AVF) treated by a microvauscular Doppler–assisted surgical interruption of the arterialized vein. Microvascular Doppler monitoring represents a valid, widely available, non-invasive tool that enables identification, through flow spectrum analysis, of components of this type of vascular malformation. In this case because the location of the fistula was identified prior to opening the dura only minimally invasive surgery was required. Direct recordings of the arterialized draining vein and the nidus of the fistula demonstrated a pathological spectrum caused by the arterial supply and the disturbed venous outflow in which a high-resistance flow pattern and low diastolic flow resembling an arterial-like flow velocity were observed. The fistula was obliterated by interruption of the draining vein, and Doppler measurements provided information on flow velocity changes in the medullary veins from an arterial to a venous pattern. The absence of any residual flow in the AVF confirmed successful hemodynamic treatment.

Intraoperative microvascular Doppler recording during surgical closure of spinal AVF is a widely available and reliable monitoring modality that helps to produce excellent clinical results.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Fabio Cacciola, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Nicola Maria Gambadauro and Francesco Tomasello

Object

Clinical and radiographic results in 30 consecutive patients who underwent posterior lumbar fixation and posterior facet joint or posterior interbody fusion for Meyerding Grade II/III spondylolisthesis were assessed: 1) to address the suitability of a dynamic stabilization; and 2) to investigate whether there are differences in terms of clinical and functional results and biomechanical properties between these two types of arthrodesis.

Methods

Between June 1998 and April 2000, 16 patients underwent posterior interfacet fusion and implantation of the SOCON-SRI system. In 14 patients posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and placement of the same system were performed. Clinical, economic, functional, and radiographic data were recorded pre- and postoperatively.

The average changes in the Prolo Scale economic and functional scores were 1.25 and 1.62, respectively, in patients who underwent posterior fusion; the average measured preoperative vertebral slippage was 47.8% (range 30–65%), and postoperatively it was 18.5% (range 15–25%). In patients in whom PLIF was performed, the average changes in economic and functional score were 1.21 and 1.36, respectively, and the average preoperative vertebral slippage was 43.5% (range 30–55%) compared with 20% (range 15–25%) postoperatively.

Conclusions

The use of a segmental pedicle screw fixation with the SOCON-SRI system successfully combines the goal of solid fusion with the requirements of nerve root decompression. When the two fusion techniques were compared, an overall superior reliability and resistance of the systems was associated with the PLIF procedure (p = 0.04) but clinical outcomes did not differ greatly (p ≥ 0.05).

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Giovanni La Rosa, Alfredo Conti, Fabio Cacciola, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Nicola Maria Gambadauro and Francesco Tomasello

Object. Posterolateral fusion involving instrumentation-assisted segmental fixation represents a valid procedure in the treatment of lumbar instability. In cases of anterior column failure, such as in isthmic spondylolisthesis, supplemental posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) may improve the fusion rate and endurance of the construct. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion is, however, a more demanding procedure and increases costs and risks of the intervention. The advantages of this technique must, therefore, be weighed against those of a simple posterior lumbar fusion.

Methods. Thirty-five consecutive patients underwent pedicle screw fixation for isthmic spondylolisthesis. In 18 patients posterior lumbar fusion was performed, and in 17 patients PLIF was added. Clinical, economic, functional, and radiographic data were assessed to determine differences in clinical and functional results and biomechanical properties.

At 2-year follow-up examination, the correction of subluxation, disc height, and foraminal area were maintained in the group in which a PLIF procedure was performed, but not in the posterolateral fusion—only group (p < 0.05). Nevertheless, no statistical intergroup differences were demonstrated in terms of neurological improvement (p = 1), economic (p = 0.43), or functional (p = 0.95) outcome, nor in terms of fusion rate (p = 0.49).

Conclusions. The authors' findings support the view that an interbody fusion confers superior mechanical strength to the spinal construct; when posterolateral fusion is the sole intervention, progressive loss of the extreme correction can be expected. Such mechanical insufficiency, however, did not influence clinical outcome.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Salvatore Cardali, Tiziana Genovese, Alfredo Conti, Rosanna Di Paola, Domenico La Torre, Fabio Cacciola and Salvatore Cuzzocrea

Object. The nuclear factor—κB (NF-κB) is a transcription factor that plays a pivotal role in the induction of genes involved in physiological processes and in the response to inflammation. The authors of recent studies have demonstrated that NF-κB and oxidative stress contribute to secondary injury after impact-induced spinal cord injury (SCI) in the rat. Dithiocarbamates are antioxidants that are potent inhibitors of NF-κB. The authors postulated that pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC) would attenuate NF-κB—related inflammatory and oxidative events that occur after SCI.

Methods. Spinal cord injury was induced by the application of vascular clips (force of 50 g) to the dura mater after a four-level T5–8 laminectomy. The authors investigated the effects of PDTC (30 mg/kg administered 30 minutes before SCI and 6 hours after SCI) on the development of the inflammatory response associated with SCI in rats. Levels of myeloperoxidase activity were measured as an indicator of polymorphonuclear infiltration; malondialdehyde levels in the spinal cord tissue were determined as an indicator of lipid peroxidation. The following studies were performed: immunohistochemical analysis to assess levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), nitrotyrosine formation, poly([adenosine diphosphate]-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activity; Western blot analysis to determine cytoplasmic levels of inhibitory—κB-α (IκB-α); and electrophoretic mobility-shift assay to measure the level of DNA/NF-κB binding.

The PDTC treatment exerted potent antiinflammatory effects with significant reduction of polymorphonuclear cell infiltration, lipid peroxidation, and iNOS activity. Furthermore, administration of PDTC reduced immunohistochemical evidence of formation of nitrotyrosine and PARP activation in the spinal cord section obtained in the SCI-treated rats. Additionally, PDTC treatment significantly prevented the activation of NF-κB (electrophoretic mobility-shift assay and immunoblot analysis).

Conclusions. Overall, the results clearly demonstrate that PDTC-related prevention of the activation of NF-κB reduces the development of some secondary injury events after SCI. Therefore, inhibition of NF-κB may represent a novel approach in the treatment of SCIs.

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Alfredo Conti, M'Hammed Aguennouz, Domenico La Torre, Salvatore Cardali, Filippo Flavio Angileri, Catia Buemi, Chiara Tomasello, Domenico Gerardo Iacopino, Domenico D'Avella, Giuseppe Vita and Francesco Tomasello

Object. Tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)—associated factors (TRAFs) are a recently established group of proteins involved in the intracellular signaling of the TNFR superfamily members. The TRAFs have been implicated in promoting cell survival through the activation of transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)—κB. The authors investigated the expression of NF-κB, caspase 3, TRAF1, TRAF2, and TRAF-associated NF-κB activator/TRAF—interacting protein (TANK/I-TRAF), a regulator of TRAF activity, in human gliomas.

Methods. Tumor samples were obtained in 27 adult patients harboring seven low-grade gliomas, nine anaplastic astrocytomas, and 11 glioblastomas multiforme. The NF-κB activation was analyzed using the electrophoresis mobility shift assay; TRAF1, TRAF2, TANK/I-TRAF, and caspase 3 expression were studied using Western blot analysis.

Upregulated NF-κB DNA—binding activity, compared with that in normal brain tissue, was detected in all tumor samples (p = 0.002). The level of NF-κB activity showed some correlation with World Health Organization tumor grades (p = 0.01), even though variable activity levels were demonstrated in relation to tissue heterogeneity, which resulted in a substantial number of outliers in the quantitative analysis. Increased levels of TRAF1, TRAF2, and TANK/I-TRAF were expressed in astrocytomas compared with levels in normal brain tissue (p = 0.02, 0.006, and 0.01, respectively).

Conclusions. Data in this study confirm the upregulation of NF-κB in gliomas and reveal a correlation between levels of this transcription factor and tumor grade. A constitutive expression of TRAF1, TRAF2, and TANK/I-TRAF in human gliomas was documented. These proteins are involved in the intracellular signal transduction of the TNFR superfamily and in the control of NF-κB expression and its antiapoptotic activity.

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Tiziana Genovese, Emanuela Mazzon, Sofia Mariotto, Marta Menegazzi, Salvatore Cardali, Alfredo Conti, Hisanori Suzuki, Placido Bramanti and Salvatore Cuzzocrea

Object

A traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) immediately induces primary damage, and this is followed by secondary damage characterized by a series of events among which is a progressive extension of cell death within the damaged tissue. In this study, the authors investigated the role of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in an experimental model of SCI in mice.

Methods

In wild-type (iNOS+/+) mice, SCI rapidly induced an inflammatory response as shown by nitrotyrosine formation, activation of the nuclear enzyme poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase (PARP), neutrophil infiltration, and spinal cord tissue histopathological changes, indicating the involvement of iNOS-derived massive amounts of NO in SCI.

Conclusions

Genetic inhibition of iNOS, however, resulted in a significant reduction in secondary damage, and this therapeutic efficacy was associated with the prevention of an SCI-induced drop in neuronal and endothelial NOS activity.

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Filippo F. Angileri, Salvatore Cardali, Alfredo Conti, Giovanni Raffa and Francesco Tomasello

Object

Telemedicine provides a new approach to improve stroke care in community settings, delivering acute stroke expertise to hospitals in rural areas. Given the controversies in many aspects of the treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and the lack of guidelines, a prompt neurosurgical second opinion may facilitate the treatment of patients with ICH. Here, the authors' 8-year experience with the use of telemedicine in the management of ICH is reported.

Methods

The medical records of patients with ICH treated through a telemedicine system in the district of Messina, Italy, between June 2003 and June 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Neuroradiological and clinical data for patients were transmitted through a high-technology “hub-and-spoke” telemedicine network. Neurosurgical teleconsulting (at the hub) was available for 7 peripheral hospitals (spokes) serving about 700,000 people. The authors analyzed 1) the time between peripheral hospital admission and the specialized second opinion consultation, 2) primary and secondary transfers to the authors' neurosurgery department, and 3) the treatments (surgical or medical) of patients transferred to the hub.

Results

The telemedicine network was used to treat more than 2800 patients, 733 with ICH. A neurosurgical consultation was provided in 38 minutes versus 160 minutes for a consultation without telemedicine. One hundred seventy-six (24%) of 733 patients were primarily transferred to the hub. Ninety-five patients (13%) underwent surgical treatment. The remaining 81 patients (11%) underwent neurointensive care. Eight (1.4%) of 557 patients treated at the spokes needed a secondary transfer for surgical treatment because of a worsening clinical condition and/or CT findings. Considering secondary and inappropriate transfers, the interpretation of data was correct in 96.5% of cases.

Conclusions

Telemedicine allowed rapid visualization of neuroradiological and clinical data, providing neurosurgical expertise to community hospitals on demand and within minutes. It allowed the treatment of patients at peripheral hospitals and optimized resources. A small percentage of patients treated at the peripheral hospitals had secondary deterioration. Telemedicine allowed fast patient transfer when necessary and provided improved accuracy in patient care.

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Roberto C. Heros