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Gregor Antoniadis, Hans-Peter Richter, Stefan Rath, Veit Braun and Gerald Moese

✓ Suprascapular nerve entrapment (SNE) in the suprascapular notch is a rare entity that must be considered in the differential diagnosis of radicular pain, as well as that of shoulder discomfort.

Over a period of 10 years (1985–1995), the authors treated 28 cases of SNE in 27 patients by surgical decompression of the nerve. One patient underwent operation bilaterally within 5 years. Five patients presented with a history of trauma to the shoulder region. In three patients, a ganglion cyst was the origin of the nerve lesion. In 16 patients, the nerve problem was primarily related to athletic activities. Eight of these patients were professional volleyball players. In the remaining three patients, there was no relationship between the nerve lesion and trauma or athletic activities.

Twenty-one patients (22 cases) complained of pain located over the suprascapular notch. Seventeen patients had paresis and atrophy of both the supraspinatus (SS) and infraspinatus (IS) muscles. In 10 patients only the IS muscle was involved. One patient exhibited a sensory deficit over the posterior portion of the shoulder. Electromyography was performed in all cases.

The mean follow-up period in the 25 cases (24 patients) that could be evaluated was 20.8 months (range 3–70 months). Nineteen of 22 cases with preoperative pain could be evaluated. Sixteen of these patients were completely free of pain after surgery and three patients found their pain had improved. Motor function in the SS muscle improved in 86.7% and motor function in the IS muscle in 70.8% of cases. Atrophy of the SS muscle resolved in 80.7% and atrophy of the IS muscle in 50% of cases.

Surgical treatment of SNE is indicated after failed conservative treatment and in cases of atrophy of the SS and IS muscles. The authors recommend the posterior approach, which minimizes risks and complications and produces good postoperative results.

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Thomas Kretschmer, Gregor Antoniadis, Veit Braun, Stefan A. Rath and Hans-Peter Richter

Object. The purpose of this study was to discover the number and types of iatrogenic nerve injuries that were surgically treated during a 9-year period at a relatively busy nerve center. The specific nerves involved, their sites of injury, and the mechanisms of injury were also documented.

Methods. The authors retrospectively evaluated the surgically treated iatrogenic lesions by reviewing case histories, operative reports, and follow-up notes in 722 cases of trauma. These cases were treated between January 1990 and December 1998 because of pain, dysesthesias, and sensory and/or motor deficits.

Iatrogenic injury was a much larger category of trauma than predicted. One hundred twenty-six (17.4%) of the 722 surgically treated cases were iatrogenic in origin. Most of these injuries occurred during a previous operation. To a major extent, nerves of the extremities were affected, and a relatively large number of injuries occurred in the neck and groin. Incidence was highest in the spinal accessory nerve (14 cases), the common peroneal nerve (11 cases), the superficial radial nerve (10 cases), the genitofemoral nerve branches (10 cases), and the median nerve (nine cases). At least two thirds of the patients did not undergo surgery for the iatrogenic injury within an optimal time interval due to delayed referral. Follow-up data were available in 97 of the 126 patients. Surgical outcomes demonstrated improvement in 70% of patients. Operative results were especially favorable in patients suffering from iatrogenic injuries to the accessory and superficial sensory radial nerves.

Conclusions. Iatrogenic injuries should be corrected in a timely fashion just like any other traumatic injury to nerve.

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Veit Braun and Hans-Peter Richter

Object. Botulinum toxin injections are the best therapeutic option in patients with spasmodic torticollis. Although a small number of patients do not benefit from such therapy, the majority respond well but may develop antibodies to the toxin after repeated applications. In those termed primary nonresponders, no improvement related to botulinum toxin has been shown. In patients in whom no response was shown and those in whom resistance to the therapy developed, selective peripheral denervation is a neurosurgical option.

Methods. Between June 1988 and August 2001, 155 patients underwent selective peripheral denervation. Surgery was performed at a mean of 8.5 years after the onset of symptoms (range 0.5–37 years). The mean age of the patients at the onset of dystonia was 39.7 years (range 17–77 years). For evaluation of results, patients' responses were assessed. Results were obtained in 140 patients in whom the follow-up period ranged from 3 to 124 months (mean 32.8 months): 18 reported complete relief of their symptoms, 50 significant relief, and 34 moderate relief; 19 noted only minor relief and the remaining 19 no improvement. The results differ substantially when compared with those previously demonstrated in patients who received botulinum toxin injections. Although 80% of the secondary nonresponders were satisfied with the result of surgery, only 62% of the primary nonresponders considered the operation helpful. There were no major side effects. The recurrence rate was 11%.

Conclusions. The injection of botulinum toxin should be the first-choice treatment. If surgery is required, selective peripheral denervation provides the best results and has the fewest side effects compared with all surgical options.

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Stefan A. Rath, Slawomir Moszko, Petra M. Schäffner, Giuseppe Cantone, Veit Braun, Hans-Peter Richter and Gregor Antoniadis

Object

Although transpedicular fixation is a biomechanically superior technique, it is not routinely used in the cervical spine. The risk of neurovascular injury in this region is considered high because the diameter of cervical pedicles is very small and their angle of insertion into the vertebral body varies. This study was conducted to analyze the clinical accuracy of stereotactically guided transpedicular screw insertion into the cervical spine.

Methods

Twenty-seven patients underwent posterior stabilization of the cervical spine for degenerative instability resulting from myelopathy, fracture/dislocation, tumor, rheumatoid arthritis, and pyogenic spondylitis. Fixation included 1–6 motion segments (mean 2.2 segments). Transpedicular screws (3.5-mm diameter) were placed using 1 of 2 computer-assisted guidance systems and lateral fluoroscopic control. The intraoperative mean deviation of frameless stereotaxy was < 1.9 mm for all procedures.

Results

No neurovascular complications resulted from screw insertion. Postoperative computed tomography (CT) scans revealed satisfactory positioning in 104 (90%) of 116 cervical pedicles and in all 12 thoracic pedicles. A noncritical lateral or inferior cortical breach was seen with 7 screws (6%). Critical malplacement (4%) was always lateral: 5 screws encroached into the vertebral artery foramen by 40–60% of its diameter; Doppler sonographic controls revealed no vascular compromise. Screw malplacement was mostly due to a small pedicle diameter that required a steep trajectory angle, which could not be achieved because of anatomical limitation in the exposure of the surgical field.

Conclusions

Despite the use of frameless stereotaxy, there remains some risk of critical transpedicular screw malpositioning in the subaxial cervical spine. Results may be improved by the use of intraoperative CT scanning and navigated percutaneous screw insertion, which allow optimization of the transpedicular trajectory.