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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.

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Vincenzo Levi, Giovanna Zorzi, Giuseppe Messina, Luigi Romito, Irene Tramacere, Ivano Dones, Nardo Nardocci and Angelo Franzini

OBJECTIVE

First-line pharmacological therapies have shown limited efficacy in status dystonicus (SD), while surgery is increasingly reported as remediable in refractory cases. In this context, there is no evidence regarding which neurosurgical approach is the safest and most effective. The aim of this study was to assess the clinical outcomes and surgery-related complications of globus pallidus internus deep brain stimulation (GPi DBS) and pallidotomy for the treatment of drug-resistant SD.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the records of patients with drug-resistant SD who had undergone GPi DBS or pallidotomy at their institution between 2003 and 2017. The severity of the dystonia was evaluated using the Barry-Albright Dystonia (BAD) Scale. Surgical procedures were performed bilaterally in all cases.

RESULTS

Fourteen patients were eligible for inclusion in the study. After surgery, the mean follow-up was 40.6 ± 30 months. DBS ended the dystonic storm in 87.5% of cases (7/8), while pallidotomy had a success rate of 83.3% (5/6). No significant differences were observed between the two techniques in terms of failure rates (risk difference DBS vs pallidotomy −0.03, 95% CI −0.36 to 0.30), SD mean resolution time (DBS 34.8 ± 19 days, pallidotomy 21.8 ± 20.2 days, p > 0.05), or BAD scores at each postoperative follow-up (p > 0.05). The long-term hardware complication rate after DBS was 37.5%, whereas no surgery-related complications were noted following pallidotomy.

CONCLUSIONS

The study data suggest that DBS and pallidotomy are equally safe and effective therapies for drug-resistant SD. The choice between the two techniques should be tailored on a case-by-case basis, depending on factors such as the etiology and evolution pattern of the underlying dystonia and the clinical conditions at the moment of SD onset. Given the limitation of the low statistical power of this study, further multicentric investigations are needed to confirm its findings.

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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.