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Thomas J. Zwimpfer and Mark Bernstein

✓ The hallmark of concussion injuries of the nervous system is the rapid and complete resolution of neurological deficits. Cerebral concussion has been well studied, both clinically and experimentally. In comparison, spinal cord concussion (SCC) is poorly understood. The clinical and radiological features of 19 SCC injuries in the general population are presented. Spinal cord injuries were classified as concussions if they met three criteria: 1) spinal trauma immediately preceded the onset of neurological deficits; 2) neurological deficits were consistent with spinal cord involvement at the level of injury; and 3) complete neurological recovery occurred within 72 hours after injury.

Most cases involved young males, injured during athletics or due to falls. Concussion occurred at the two most unstable spinal regions, 16 involving the cervical spinal and three the thoracolumbar junction. Fifteen cases presented with combined sensorimotor deficits, while four exhibited only sensory disturbances. Many patients showed signs of recovery with the first few hours after injury and most had completely recovered within 24 hours. Only one case involved an unstable spinal injury. There was no evidence of ligamentous instability, spinal stenosis, or canal encroachment in the remaining 18 cases. Two patients, both children, suffered recurrent SCC injuries. No delayed deterioration or permanent cord injuries occurred.

Spinal abnormalities that would predispose the spinal cord to a compressive injury were present in only one of the 19 cases. This suggests that, as opposed to direct cord compression, SCC may be the result of an indirect cord injury. Possible mechanisms are discussed.

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John C. L. Sun, John Maguire and Thomas J. Zwimpfer

✓ Lymphangiomas, benign hamartomatous lesions involving lymphatic tissue, result from a failure of lymphatic channels to communicate with the venous system or normal lymphatic channels. The authors describe a case in which a lymphangioma arising within the ulnar nerve developed after trauma to the same area. This is the second reported case of a lymphangioma that originated from a peripheral nerve and the first case in which the lesion was associated with trauma. The authors propose that a lymphangioma involving the peripheral nerve may be the result of trauma.

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Thomas J. Zwimpfer, Jennifer Brown, Irene Sullivan and Richard J. Moulton

✓ This prospective review of adult patients with head injuries examines the incidence of head injuries due to falls caused by seizures, the incidence and severity of intracranial hematomas, and the morbidity and mortality rates in this patient population. A head injury was attributed to a fall caused by a seizure if the seizure was witnessed to have caused the fall, or the patient had a known seizure history, appeared postictal or was found convulsing after the fall, and no other cause for the fall was evident.

A total of 1760 adult head-injured patients were consecutively admitted to the authors' service between 1986 and 1993. Five hundred eighty-two head injuries (33.1%) were due to falls and 22 (3.8%) of these were caused by seizures. Based on the prevalence rates for epilepsy in the general population of 0.5 to 2%, these results indicate that epileptics are several times more likely to suffer a head injury due to a fall. Mass lesions were found in 20 (90.9%) of these 22 patients and the remaining two patients suffered mild diffuse head injuries. There was a high incidence of extraaxial mass lesions: 17 (85%) of the 20 intracranial hematomas were either epidural (five cases) or acute subdural (12 cases) hematomas. Eighteen (81.8%) of the 22 patients required evacuation of a hematoma. Both the incidence of intracranial hematomas (90.9% vs. 39.8%; p < 0.001, chi-square analysis) and the rate of hematoma evacuation (81.8% vs. 32.3%; p < 0.001) was significantly greater in patients injured in falls due to seizures (22 cases) than in the group injured in falls from all other causes (560 cases). The higher incidence of hematomas and the need for evacuation were not explained by differences in age, severity of head injury, or incidence of alcohol intoxication. Despite the greater incidence of mass lesions and the need for operative treatment in patients injured because of seizures, their mortality rate was similar to that of patients injured in falls from other causes.

On the basis of their review of patients admitted to a neurosurgical center with complaints of head injury, the authors conclude that patients with head injuries due to a fall caused by a seizure should undergo computerized tomography scanning early in their management. Until a mass lesion has been excluded, any decrease in level of consciousness or focal neurological deficit should not be attributed to the seizure itself.

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Michael A. Williams, Sean J. Nagel, Mark G. Luciano, Norman Relkin, Thomas J. Zwimpfer, Heather Katzen, Richard Holubkov, Abhay Moghekar, Jeffrey H. Wisoff, Guy M. McKhann II, James Golomb, Richard J. Edwards and Mark G. Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

The authors describe the demographics and clinical characteristics of the first 517 patients enrolled in the Adult Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (AHCRN) during its first 2 years.

METHODS

Adults ≥ 18 years were nonconsecutively enrolled in a registry at 6 centers. Four categories of adult hydrocephalus were defined: transition (treated before age 18 years), unrecognized congenital (congenital pattern, not treated before age 18 years), acquired (secondary to known risk factors, treated or untreated), and suspected idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) (≥ age 65 years, not previously treated). Data include etiology, symptoms, examination findings, neuropsychology screening, comorbidities, treatment, complications, and outcomes. Standard evaluations were administered to all patients by trained examiners, including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, the Beck Depression Inventory–II, the Overactive Bladder Questionnaire Short Form symptom bother, the 10-Meter Walk Test, the Boon iNPH gait scale, the Lawton Activities of Daily Living/Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (ADL/IADL) questionnaire, the iNPH grading scale, and the modified Rankin Scale.

RESULTS

Overall, 517 individuals were enrolled. Age ranged from 18.1 to 90.7 years, with patients in the transition group (32.7 ± 10.0 years) being the youngest and those in the suspected iNPH group (76.5 ± 5.2 years) being the oldest. The proportion of patients in each group was as follows: 16.6% transition, 26.5% unrecognized congenital, 18.2% acquired, and 38.7% suspected iNPH. Excluding the 86 patients in the transition group, who all had received treatment, 79.4% of adults in the remaining 3 groups had not been treated at the time of enrollment. Patients in the suspected iNPH group had the poorest performance in cognitive evaluations, and those in the unrecognized congenital group had the best performance. The same pattern was seen in the Lawton ADL/IADL scores. Gait velocity was lowest in patients in the suspected iNPH group. Categories that had the most comorbidities (suspected iNPH) or etiologies of hydrocephalus that directly cause neurological injury (transition, acquired) had greater degrees of impairment compared to unrecognized congenital, which had the fewest comorbidities or etiologies associated with neurological injury.

CONCLUSIONS

The clinical spectrum of hydrocephalus in adults comprises more than iNPH or acquired hydrocephalus. Only 39% of patients had suspected iNPH, whereas 43% had childhood onset (i.e., those in the transition and unrecognized congenital groups). The severity of symptoms and impairment was worsened when the etiology of the hydrocephalus or complications of treatment caused additional neurological injury or when multiple comorbidities were present. However, more than half of patients in the transition, unrecognized congenital, and acquired hydrocephalus groups had minimal or no impairment. Excluding the transition group, nearly 80% of patients in the AHCRN registry were untreated at the time of enrollment. A future goal for the AHCRN is to determine whether patients with unrecognized congenital and acquired hydrocephalus need treatment and which patients in the suspected iNPH cohort actually have possible hydrocephalus and should undergo further diagnostic testing. Future prospective research is needed in the diagnosis, treatment, outcomes, quality of life, and macroeconomics of all categories of adult hydrocephalus.