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Andrea Franzini, Giuseppe Messina, Vincenzo Levi, Antonio D’Ammando, Roberto Cordella, Shayan Moosa, Francesco Prada and Angelo Franzini

OBJECTIVE

Central poststroke neuropathic pain is a debilitating syndrome that is often resistant to medical therapies. Surgical measures include motor cortex stimulation and deep brain stimulation (DBS), which have been used to relieve pain. The aim of this study was to retrospectively assess the safety and long-term efficacy of DBS of the posterior limb of the internal capsule for relieving central poststroke neuropathic pain and associated spasticity affecting the lower limb.

METHODS

Clinical and surgical data were retrospectively collected and analyzed in all patients who had undergone DBS of the posterior limb of the internal capsule to address central poststroke neuropathic pain refractory to conservative measures. In addition, long-term pain intensity and level of satisfaction gained from stimulation were assessed. Pain was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS). Information on gait improvement was obtained from medical records, neurological examination, and interview.

RESULTS

Four patients have undergone the procedure since 2001. No mortality or morbidity related to the surgery was recorded. In three patients, stimulation of the posterior limb of the internal capsule resulted in long-term pain relief; in a fourth patient, the procedure failed to produce any long-lasting positive effect. Two patients obtained a reduction in spasticity and improved motor capability. Before surgery, the mean VAS score was 9 (range 8–10). In the immediate postoperative period and within 1 week after the DBS system had been turned on, the mean VAS score was significantly lower at a mean of 3 (range 0–6). After a mean follow-up of 5.88 years, the mean VAS score was still reduced at 5.5 (range 3–8). The mean percentage of long-term pain reduction was 38.13%.

CONCLUSIONS

This series suggests that stimulation of the posterior limb of the internal capsule is safe and effective in treating patients with chronic neuropathic pain affecting the lower limb. The procedure may be a more targeted treatment method than motor cortex stimulation or other neuromodulation techniques in the subset of patients whose pain and spasticity are referred to the lower limbs.

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Vincenzo Levi, Nicola Ernesto Di Laurenzio, Andrea Franzini, Irene Tramacere, Alessandra Erbetta, Luisa Chiapparini, Domenico D’Amico, Angelo Franzini and Giuseppe Messina

OBJECTIVE

Although epidural blood patch (EBP) is considered the gold-standard treatment for drug-resistant orthostatic headache in spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH), no clear evidence exists regarding the best administration method of this technique (blind vs target procedures). The aim of this study was to assess the long-term efficacy of blind lumbar EBP and predictors on preoperative MRI of good outcome.

METHODS

Lumbar EBP was performed by injecting 10 ml of autologous venous blood, fibrin glue, and contrast medium in 101 consecutive patients affected by SIH and orthostatic headache. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores for headache were recorded preoperatively, at 48 hours and 6 months after the procedure, and by telephone interview in July 2017. Patients were defined as good responders if a VAS score reduction of at least 50% was achieved within 48 hours of the procedure and lasted for at least 6 months. Finally, common radiological SIH findings were correlated with clinical outcomes.

RESULTS

The median follow-up was 60 months (range 8–135 months); 140 lumbar EBPs were performed without complications. The baseline VAS score was 8.7 ± 1.3, while the mean VAS score after the first EBP procedure was 3.5 ± 2.2 (p < 0.001). The overall response rate at the 6-month follow-up was 68.3% (mean VAS score 2.5 ± 2.4, p < 0.001). Symptoms recurred in 32 patients (31.7%). These patients underwent a second procedure, with a response rate at the 6-month follow-up of 78.1%. Seven patients (6.9%) did not improve after a third procedure and remained symptomatic. The overall response rate at the last follow-up was 89.1% with a mean VAS score of 2.7 ± 2.3 (p < 0.001). The only MRI predictors of good outcome were location of the iter > 2 mm below the incisural line (p < 0.05) and a pontomesencephalic angle (PMA) < 40° (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Lumbar EBP may be considered safe and effective in cases of drug-refractory SIH. The presence of a preprocedural PMA < 40° and location of the iter > 2 mm below the incisural line were the most significant predictors of good outcome. Randomized prospective clinical trials comparing lumbar with targeted EBP are warranted to validate these results.