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Ching-Yi Lee, Han-Tao Li, Tony Wu, Mei-Yun Cheng, Siew-Na Lim and Shih-Tseng Lee

OBJECTIVE

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFTC), which has been developed for drug-resistant epilepsy patients, involves less brain tissue loss due to surgery, fewer surgical adverse effects, and generally good seizure control. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of RFTC performed at limited hippocampal locations.

METHODS

Daily seizure diaries were prospectively maintained for at least 6 months by 9 patients (ages 30–59 years) with drug-resistant mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) before treatment with RFTC. The limited target for stereotactic RFTC was chosen based on intraoperative electroencephalography (EEG) recording and was initially tested with a Radionics electrode at a low temperature, 45°C, for 60 seconds. The therapeutic RFTC heating parameters were 78°C–80°C for 90 seconds. All patients who received the RFTC treatment underwent both MRI and EEG recording immediately postoperatively and at the 3-month follow-up. Monthly outpatient clinic visits were arranged over 6 months to document seizure frequency and severity to clarify the changes noted in imaging studies and EEG patterns.

RESULTS

Two patients were excluded from our analysis because one had undergone multiple seizure surgeries and the other had a poor recording of seizure frequency, before the RFTC surgery. Five and two patients underwent left-sided and right-sided RFTC, respectively. None of the patients had generalized tonic-clonic attacks postoperatively, and no adverse effects or complications occurred. According to MRI data, the effect of coagulation was limited to less than 1.0 cm in diameter and perifocal edema was also in limited range. The seizure frequency within 6 months decreased postoperatively with a mean reduction in seizures of 78% (range 36%–100%). Only two patients had a temporary increase in seizure frequency within 2 weeks of the surgery, and over 50% of all patients showed a decrease in average seizure frequency.

CONCLUSIONS

The study results confirm that limited RFTC provides a more effective surgery with similar seizure control but fewer complications than resective surgery for drug-resistant MTLE patients.

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David Oehme, Peter Ghosh, Tony Goldschlager, Silviu Itescu, Susan Shimon, Jiehua Wu, Courtney McDonald, John M. Troupis, Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld and Graham Jenkin

OBJECTIVE

Disc degeneration and associated low-back pain are major causes of suffering and disability. The authors examined the potential of mesenchymal precursor cells (MPCs), when formulated with pentosan polysulfate (PPS), to ameliorate disc degeneration in an ovine model.

METHODS

Twenty-four sheep had annular incisions made at L2–3, L3–4, and L4–5 to induce degeneration. Twelve weeks after injury, the nucleus pulposus of a degenerated disc in each animal was injected with ProFreeze and PPS formulated with either a low dose (0.1 million MPCs) or a high dose (0.5 million MPCs) of cells. The 2 adjacent injured discs in each spine were either injected with PPS and ProFreeze (PPS control) or not injected (nil-injected control). The adjacent noninjured L1–2 and L5–6 discs served as noninjured control discs. Disc height indices (DHIs) were obtained at baseline, before injection, and at planned death. After necropsy, 24 weeks after injection, the spines were subjected to MRI and morphological, histological, and biochemical analyses.

RESULTS

Twelve weeks after the annular injury, all the injured discs exhibited a significant reduction in mean DHI (low-dose group 17.19%; high-dose group 18.01% [p < 0.01]). Twenty-four weeks after injections, the discs injected with the low-dose MPC+PPS formulation recovered disc height, and their mean DHI was significantly greater than the DHI of PPS- and nil-injected discs (p < 0.001). Although the mean Pfirrmann MRI disc degeneration score for the low-dose MPC+PPS–injected discs was lower than that for the nil- and PPS-injected discs, the differences were not significant. The disc morphology scores for the nil- and PPS-injected discs were significantly higher than the normal control disc scores (p < 0.005), whereas the low-dose MPC+PPS–injected disc scores were not significantly different from those of the normal controls. The mean glycosaminoglycan content of the nuclei pulposus of the low-dose MPC+PPS–injected discs was significantly higher than that of the PPS-injected controls (p < 0.05) but was not significantly different from the normal control disc glycosaminoglycan levels. Histopathology degeneration frequency scores for the low-dose MPC+PPS–injected discs were lower than those for the PPS- and Nil-injected discs. The corresponding high-dose MPC+PPS–injected discs failed to show significant improvements in any outcome measure relative to the controls.

CONCLUSIONS

Intradiscal injections of a formulation composed of 0.1 million MPCs combined with PPS resulted in positive effects in reducing the progression of disc degeneration in an ovine model, as assessed by improvements in DHI and morphological, biochemical, and histopathological scores.

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David Oehme, Peter Ghosh, Susan Shimmon, Jiehua Wu, Courtney McDonald, John M. Troupis, Tony Goldschlager, Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld and Graham Jenkin

Object

Following microdiscectomy, discs generally fail to undergo spontaneous regeneration and patients may experience chronic low-back pain and recurrent disc prolapse. In published studies, formulations of mesenchymal progenitor cells combined with pentosan polysulfate (MPCs+PPS) have been shown to regenerate disc tissue in animal models, suggesting that this approach may provide a useful adjunct to microdiscectomy. The goal of this preclinical laboratory study was to determine if the transplantation of MPCs+PPS, embedded in a gelatin/fibrin scaffold (SCAF), and transplanted into a defect created by microdiscectomy, could promote disc regeneration.

Methods

A standardized microdiscectomy procedure was performed in 18 ovine lumbar discs. The subsequent disc defects were randomized to receive either no treatment (NIL), SCAF only, or the MPC+PPS formulation added to SCAF (MPCs+PPS+SCAF). Necropsies were undertaken 6 months postoperatively and the spines analyzed radiologically (radiography and MRI), biochemically, and histologically.

Results

No adverse events occurred throughout the duration of the study. The MPC+PPS+SCAF group had significantly less reduction in disc height compared with SCAF-only and NIL groups (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). Magnetic resonance imaging Pfirrmann scores in the MPC+PPS+SCAF group were significantly lower than those in the SCAF group (p = 0.0213). The chaotropic solvent extractability of proteoglycans from the nucleus pulposus of MPC+PPS+SCAF-treated discs was significantly higher than that from the SCAF-only discs (p = 0.0312), and using gel exclusion chromatography, extracts from MPC+PPS+SCAF-treated discs also contained a higher percentage of proteoglycan aggregates than the extracts from both other groups. Analysis of the histological sections showed that 66% (p > 0.05) of the MPC+PPS+SCAF-treated discs exhibited less degeneration than the NIL or SCAF discs.

Conclusions

These findings demonstrate the capacity of MPCs in combination with PPS, when embedded in a gelatin sponge and sealed with fibrin glue in a microdiscectomy defect, to restore disc height, disc morphology, and nucleus pulposus proteoglycan content.