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William S. Rosenberg, Andrew E. Rosenberg and Charles E. Poletti

✓ The authors report two cases of herniated intervertebral disc presenting as a mass posterior to the odontoid process and causing myelopathy in previously healthy elderly women. The differential diagnosis of a mass at the craniovertebral junction is reviewed, and the implications of these cases are discussed.

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Sharona Ben-Haim, Zaman Mirzadeh and William S. Rosenberg

OBJECTIVE

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-established, evidence-based therapy with FDA approval for Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Despite the early successful use of DBS to target the sensory thalamus for intractable facial pain, subsequent studies pursuing various chronic pain syndromes reported variable efficacy, keeping DBS for pain as an investigational and “off-label” use. The authors report promising results for a contemporary series of patients with intractable facial pain who were treated with DBS.

METHODS

Pain outcomes for 7 consecutive patients with unilateral, intractable facial pain undergoing DBS of the ventral posteromedial nucleus of the thalamus (VPM) and the periaqueductal gray (PAG) were retrospectively reviewed. Pain was assessed preoperatively and at multiple postoperative time points using the visual analog scale (VAS), the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire-2 (SF-MPQ-2), and the Pain Disability Index (PDI).

RESULTS

VAS scores significantly decreased from a mean ± SD of 9.0 ± 1.3 preoperatively to 2.6 ± 1.5 at 1 year postoperatively (p = 0.001). PDI scores decreased from a mean total of 48.5 to 28.5 (p = 0.01). SF-MPQ-2 scores decreased from a mean of 4.6 to 2.4 (p = 0.03). Notably, several patients did not experience maximum improvement until 6–9 months postoperatively, correlating with repeated programming adjustments.

CONCLUSIONS

DBS of the VPM and PAG is a potential therapeutic option for patients suffering from severe, intractable facial pain refractory to other interventions. Improved efficacy may be observed over time with close follow-up and active DBS programming adjustments.

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Christina Huang Wright, Dorian Kusyk, William S. Rosenberg and Jennifer A. Sweet

Lymphangiomatosis is a rare congenital disorder that results in multiorgan system lymphatic invasion. Symptoms due to axial skeletal involvement can range from chronic bone pain to severe deformity resulting in radiculopathy, myelopathy, and even paralysis. The authors present a case of lymphangiomatosis of the clivus, C-1, and C-2, resulting in chronic pain. The patient was successfully treated with percutaneous transoral clivoplasty and vertebroplasty, without disease progression or return of symptoms at 2 years.

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David M. Frim, M. Priscilla Short, William S. Rosenberg, Joseph Simpson, Xandra O. Breakefield and Ole Isacson

✓ Neurotrophic factors, such as nerve growth factor (NGF), in addition to their role in neuronal development, have protective effects on neuronal survival. Intracerebral implantation of cells genetically altered to secrete high levels of NGF is also found to promote neuronal survival in experimental lesioning models of the brain. The range of activity for such biological delivery systems has not yet been well described either spatially or temporally. Therefore, the authors chose to study the local and distant protective effects of an NGF-secreting rat fibroblast cell line implanted in an excitotoxic lesion model of Huntington's disease. They found that preimplantion of NGF-secreting fibroblasts placed within the corpus callosum reduced the maximum crosssectional area of a subsequent excitotoxic lesion in the ipsilateral striatum by 80% when compared to the effects of a non-NGF-secreting fibroblast graft, and by 83% when compared to excitotoxic lesions in ungrafted animals (p < 0.003). However, NGF-secreting cells placed in the contralateral corpus callosum failed to affect striatal lesion size significantly when compared to contralateral or ipsilateral non-NGF-secreting cell implants. Of note, fibroblasts were clearly visible within the graft site at 7 and 18 days after implantation; however, few cells within the grafts stained positively for NGF peptide or for the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) encoding the transfected NGF gene-construct at either time point. These results show that biological delivery systems for NGF appear to have a profound but local effect on neuronal excitotoxicity, which will necessitate careful neurosurgical placement for maximum effect. Furthermore, the ability of this genetically altered cell line to synthesize NGF mRNA and peptide appears to decrease spontaneously in vivo, a characteristic that will need to be addressed before this method of biological delivery can be utilized as a treatment for chronic degenerative diseases.