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Thomas-Marc Markwalder

✓ Present knowledge of the still controversial pathogenetic, ultrastructural, diagnostic, and treatment aspects of chronic subdural hematomas is reviewed.

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Markus Wenger and Thomas-Marc Markwalder

Object. In patients with long-standing lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD) conventional surgical therapy of a herniated disc may worsen back pain due to further destabilization of the affected motion segment. In recent years, total-disc arthroplasty has been introduced to treat DDD while maintaining segmental mobility. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first report involving lumbar disc herniation and long-standing DDD submitted to combined anterior microdiscectomy with sequestrectomy and total-disc arthroplasty.

Methods. Fourteen patients with long-standing DDD and a recently herniated disc underwent total anterior lumbar microdiscectomy, with removal of the herniated disc, and total-disc arthroplasty. There were nine women and five men whose mean age was 39.6 years (range 22–56 years) in whom back and leg pain had been present for a mean of 75.4 (range 9–360) and 9.4 (range 0.33–36) months, respectively. Thirteen patients underwent L5—S1 and one underwent L4–5 surgery. In all cases the procedure and the postoperative courses were uneventful. After a mean follow-up period of 12.5 months (range 3.9–21.1 months), outcome was excellent in 11 and good in three patients.

Conclusions. The aforementioned surgical treatment of a recently herniated lumbar disc in patients with long-standing DDD yielded very favorable early results.

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Markus Wenger, Nicola Sapio and Thomas-Marc Markwalder

Object. The authors assessed the late outcome of patients with Meyerding Grade I and II isthmic spondylolisthesis (IS) who underwent posterior instrumentation and posterolateral fusion (PLF). Decompression and posterior internal fixation with PLF is the classic surgical treatment for painful low-grade IS. Nevertheless, outcome data are scarce and of limited value mainly because they represent small numbers of patients, short follow-up periods, or both.

Methods. The authors obtained data in the cases of 132 consecutive adult patients (mean age 40.6 years, range 15.2–69.9 years) with IS who underwent treatment between 1984 and 2003. Assessment involved analysis of responses to mailed questionnaires, clinical charts and, in cases in which unsatisfactory results were suspected, results of clinical reevaluations. Spondylolisthesis was present at L3–4 in three patients, L4–5 in 14, L3–4 in one, L3–5 in one, L5—S1 in 113, and S1–2 in one. Signs and symptoms included back and leg pain (65.3%), leg pain alone (26.3%), back pain alone (8.4%), and neurological dysfunction (18%).

At a mean follow-up duration of 9.9 years (range 0.5–19.4 years), favorable results were reported for back and leg pain in 91.7 and 87.1% of patients, respectively. The mean visual analog scale scores were 2.13 for back and 1.59 for leg pain. Eighty-four patients resumed full- or part-time work, and 56.8% were capable of performing housework more easily. In 45.5% of the patients analgesic medications were not required, and 43.9% required them sporadically. The majority (63.6%) of patients reported they would undergo surgery again and recommended it to others. Thirteen (9.9%) suffered adjacent-segment morbidity, and in seven (5.3%) pseudarthrosis was documented. There were two deep and one superficial infections (2.3%).

Conclusions. Posterior instrumentation and PLF, with possible neurodecompression, yielded favorable long-term results in this retrospective study of 132 patients with low-grade IS.

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Rune Aaslid, Thomas-Marc Markwalder and Helge Nornes

✓ In this report the authors describe a noninvasive transcranial method of determining the flow velocities in the basal cerebral arteries. Placement of the probe of a range-gated ultrasound Doppler instrument in the temporal area just above the zygomatic arch allowed the velocities in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) to be determined from the Doppler signals. The flow velocities in the proximal anterior (ACA) and posterior (PCA) cerebral arteries were also recorded at steady state and during test compression of the common carotid arteries. An investigation of 50 healthy subjects by this transcranial Doppler method revealed that the velocity in the MCA, ACA, and PCA was 62 ± 12, 51 ± 12, and 44 ± 11 cm/sec, respectively. This method is of particular value for the detection of vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage and for evaluating the cerebral circulation in occlusive disease of the carotid and vertebral arteries.

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Thomas-Marc Markwalder, Markus Wenger, Jean-Pierre Elsig and Etienne Laloux

✓ Experience indicates that stand-alone cages may lack the necessary stability to secure highly unstable motion segments at the lumbosacral junction.

The authors have designed a special carbon fiber composite interbody cage that allows additional screw placement in anterior lumbar interbody fusion procedures performed at the lumbosacral junction.

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Thomas-Marc Markwalder, Klaus F. Steinsiepe, Matthias Rohner, Walter Reichenbach and Hans Markwalder

✓ A consecutive series of 32 adult patients with chronic subdural hematoma was studied in respect to postoperative cerebral reexpansion (reduction in diameter of the subdural space) after burr-hole craniostomy and closed-system drainage. Patients with high subdural pressure showed the most rapid brain expansion and clinical improvement during the first 2 days. Nevertheless, a computerized tomography (CT) scan performed on the 10th day after surgery demonstrated persisting subdural fluid in 78% of cases. After 40 days, the CT scan was normal in 27 of the 32 patients. There was no mortality and no significant morbidity. Our study suggests that well developed subdural neomembranes are the crucial factors for cerebral reexpansion, a phenomenon that takes at least 10 to 20 days. However, blood vessel dysfunction and impairment of cerebral blood flow may participate in delay of brain reexpansion. It may be argued that additional surgical procedures, such as repeated tapping of the subdural fluid, craniotomy, and membranectomy or even craniectomy, should not be evaluated earlier than 20 days after the initial surgical procedure unless the patient has deteriorated markedly.