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1.  Electrophysiological diagnosis using sensory nerve action potential for the intraforaminal and extraforaminal L5 nerve root entrapment 
European Spine Journal  2012;22(4):833-839.
Background
The diagnosis of lumbar intraforaminal and extraforaminal stenosis (lumbar foraminal stenosis) is sometimes difficult. However, sensory nerve action potential (SNAP) decreases in amplitude when the lesion is at or distal to the dorsal root ganglion. Therefore, the amplitude of SNAP with lumbar foraminal stenosis should be decreased. In this cohort study, the usefulness of SNAP for the preoperative diagnosis of L5/S foraminal stenosis was assessed.
Methods
In 63 patients undergoing unilateral L5 radiculopathy, bilateral SNAPs were recorded for the superficial peroneal nerve (L5 origin). The patients were divided into two groups according to the results of imaging examinations. Group A (37 patients) included patients whose lesion was located only at the intraspinal canal. In group B (26 patients), the lesion was located only at the intra- or extraforaminal area. All patients received surgery and the symptoms were diminished. The ratios of the amplitudes of SNAPs on the affected side to that on the unaffected side were compared between groups A and B.
Results
SNAPs could not be elicited bilaterally in four patients. The amplitude ratio for group B (median 0.42, max 1.17, min 0) was significantly lower than that in group A (median 0.85, max 1.43, min 0) (p < 0.001 by Mann–Whitney U test). Using a cut-off value of 0.5 for the amplitude ratio, the sensitivity for the diagnosis of lumbar foraminal stenosis was 91.3 % with a specificity of 85.7 %.
Conclusions
Measurement of SNAP could be useful to diagnose a unilateral L5/S foraminal stenosis.
doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2592-5
PMCID: PMC3631025  PMID: 23179988
Electrodiagnosis; Sensory nerve action potential; L5 radiculopathy; Intraforaminal and extraforaminal root entrapment
2.  Clinical applications of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar foraminal nerve root entrapment 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(11):1874-1882.
Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) can provide valuable structural information about tissues that may be useful for clinical applications in evaluating lumbar foraminal nerve root entrapment. Our purpose was to visualize the lumbar nerve root and to analyze its morphology, and to measure its apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in healthy volunteers and patients with lumbar foraminal stenosis using 1.5-T magnetic resonance imaging. Fourteen patients with lumbar foraminal stenosis and 14 healthy volunteers were studied. Regions of interest were placed at the fourth and fifth lumbar root at dorsal root ganglia and distal spinal nerves (at L4 and L5) and the first sacral root and distal spinal nerve (S1) on DWI to quantify mean ADC values. The anatomic parameters of the spinal nerve roots can also be determined by neurography. In patients, mean ADC values were significantly higher in entrapped roots and distal spinal nerve than in intact ones. Neurography also showed abnormalities such as nerve indentation, swelling and running transversely in their course through the foramen. In all patients, leg pain was ameliorated after selective decompression (n = 9) or nerve block (n = 5). We demonstrated the first use of DWI and neurography of human lumbar nerves to visualize and quantitatively evaluate lumbar nerve entrapment with foraminal stenosis. We believe that DWI is a potential tool for diagnosis of lumbar nerve entrapment.
doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1520-9
PMCID: PMC2989261  PMID: 20632042
Diffusion-weighted imaging; Apparent diffusion coefficient; Lumbar foraminal stenosis; Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging; Neurography
3.  Interspinous spacers for lumbar foraminal stenosis: formal trials are justified 
European Spine Journal  2013;22(Suppl 1):47-53.
Purpose
To determine whether preliminary evidence supports X-STOP implants as an effective treatment for lumbar radiculopathy secondary to foraminal stenosis, and if larger formal trials are warranted.
Methods
Participants had a clinical diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy supported by MRI findings of foraminal stenosis and relevant nerve root compression. Self-reported disability and pain were measured pre-operation, early and late post-operation using the widely used Oswestry Disablity Index (ODI) and the bodily pain scale of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36BP). The statistical significance (paired samples t test; Wilcoxon signed ranks test), and clinical significance (Cohen’s effect size; Standardised response means) of change scores was determined.
Results
Fifteen people had X-STOP implants. Data pre- early- and late post-operation were available for ten. Self-reported disability and pain improved substantially by the early post operative measurement. Mean change scores (ODI = 29; SF-36BP = −45), significant at the p < 0.05 but not significant at the p < 0.001, were very large and effect sizes exceeded notably criteria for large clinical improvements (>0.80). Improvements were maintained at 2–3 years. Both scales had floor and ceiling effects implying changes may be underestimated. There were no surgical complications.
Conclusions
In this small study, X-STOP appeared safe and effective. It is less invasive than other established surgical procedures, but does not jeopardise other options in the event of failure. Large scale clinical trials are justified but floor and ceiling effects suggest that the ODI and SF-36 may not be the best choice of outcome measures for those studies.
doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2650-z
PMCID: PMC3578516  PMID: 23354776
Lumbar radiculopathy; Foraminal stenosis; Interspinous implant; X-STOP; Outcome measures; Oswestry disability index; SF-36; Ceiling/floor effects
4.  COMPARABLE EFFECTIVENESS OF CAUDAL VS. TRANS-FORAMINAL EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTIONS 
Study Design: Retrospective case-control study.
Objective: To compare the effectiveness between caudal and trans-foraminal epidural steroid injections for the treatment of primary lumbar radiculopathy.
Summary of Background Data: Spinal injections with steroids play an important role in non-operative care of lumbar radiculopathy. The trans-foraminal epidural steroid injection (TESI) theoretically has a higher success rate based on targeted delivery to the symptomatic nerve root. To our knowledge, these results have not been compared with other techniques of epidural steroid injection.
Methods: 93 patients diagnosed with primary lumbar radiculopathy of L4, L5, or SI were recruited for this study: 39 received caudal epidural steroid injections (ESI) and 54 received trans-foraminal epidural steroid injections (TESI). Outcomes scores included the SF-36, Oswestry disability index (ODI) and pain visual analogue scale (VAS), and were recorded at baseline, post-treatment (<6 months), long-term (>1 year). The average follow-up was 2 years, and 16 patients were lost to follow-up. The endpoint “surgical intervention” was a patient-driven decision, and considered failure of treatment. Intent-to-treat analysis, and comparisons included t-test, Chi-square, and Wilcoxon rank-sum test.
Results: Baseline demographics and outcomes scores were comparable for both treatment groups (ESI vs. TESI): (SF-36 PCS (32.3 ± 7.5 vs. 29.5 ± 8.9 respectively; p = 0.173), MCS (41.2 ± 12.7 vs. 41.1 ± 10.9, respectively; p = 0.971), and VAS (7.4 ±2.1 vs. 7.9 ± 1.2, respectively; p = 0.228)). Surgery was indicated for failure of treatment at a similar rate for both groups (41.0% vs. 44.4%, p=0.743). Symptom improvement was comparable between both treatment groups (ESI vs. TESI): SF-36 PCS improved to 42.0±11.8 and 37.7±12.3, respectively; p=0.49; ODI improved from 50.0±21.2 to 15.6±17.9and from 62.1±17.9 to 26.1±20.3, respectively (p=0.407).
Conclusions: The effectiveness of TESI is comparable to that of ESI (approximately 60%) for the treatment of primary lumbar radiculopathy. The increased complexity of TESI is not justified for primary cases, and may have a more specific role in recurrent disease or for diagnostic purposes.
PMCID: PMC2723700  PMID: 19742093
5.  Sudden Foot Drop Caused by Foraminal Gas Pseudocyst 
A foraminal gas pseudocyst is a rare cause of lumbar radiculopathy. The association with a sudden foot drop has not been previously reported. Here, a 67-year-old woman with sudden foot drop on the left side is reported. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging identified a foraminal gas containing lesion compressing the left L5 root at the L5-S1 foramen. The foraminal gas containing lesion compressing the L5 ganglion was successfully removed by the posterior approach. The histological diagnosis was a gas pseudocyst. This unique case of surgically proven gas pseudocyst indicates that it should be included in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with sudden foot drop.
doi:10.3340/jkns.2011.49.6.384
PMCID: PMC3158487  PMID: 21887402
Gas pseudocyst; Foramen; Foot drop
6.  Investigation of High-Sensitivity C-reactive Protein and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate in Low Back Pain Patients 
The Korean Journal of Pain  2010;23(2):147-150.
Background
Chronic low back pain can be a manifestation of lumbar degenerative disease, herniation of intervertebral discs, arthritis, or lumbar stenosis. When nerve roots are compromised, low back pain, with or without lower extremity involvement, may occur. Local inflammatory processes play an important role in patients with acute lumbosciatic pain. The purpose of this study was to assess the value of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) measurements in patients with chronic low back pain or radiculopathy.
Methods
ESR and hsCRP were measured in 273 blood samples from male and female subjects with low back pain and/or radiculopathy due to herniated lumbar disc, spinal stenosis, facet syndrome, and other diseases. The hsCRP and ESR were measured prior to lumbar epidural steroid injection.
Results
The mean ESR was 18.8 mm/h and mean hsCRP was 1.1 mg/L. ESR had a correlation with age.
Conclusions
A significant systemic inflammatory reaction did not appear to arise in patients with chronic low back pain.
doi:10.3344/kjp.2010.23.2.147
PMCID: PMC2886244  PMID: 20556218
ESR; hsCRP; low back pain
7.  Cervical foraminal selective nerve root block: a ‘two-needle technique’ with results 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(4):576-584.
Several techniques have been described for selective nerve root blocks. We describe a novel ‘two-needle technique’, performed through the postero-lateral route with the patient in lateral position under C-arm guidance. The aim of the current study is to highlight the effectiveness and safety of cervical selective nerve root block for radiculopathy using this technique. We present results of a retrospective 2-year follow-up study of 33 injections carried out on 33 patients with radiculopathy due to cervical disc disease and or foraminal stenosis using this procedure. Patients with myelopathy, gross motor weakness and any other pathology were excluded. The outcome was measured comparing ‘Visual Analogue Score’ (VAS) and ‘Neck Disability Index’ (NDI) before the procedure with those at 6 weeks and 12 months after the procedure. Thirty patients were included in the final analysis. Average pre-operative VAS score was 7.4 (range 5–10), which improved to 2.2 (range 0–7) at 6 weeks and 2.0 (range 0–4) at 1 year and the mean NDI score prior to intervention was 66.9 (range 44–84), which improved to 31.7 (range 18–66) at 6 weeks and 31.1 (range 16–48) at 1 year. The improvements were statistically significant. Patients with involvement of C6 or C7 nerve roots responded slightly better at 6 weeks with regards to VAS improvement. Mean duration of radiation exposure during the procedure was 27.8 s (range 10–90 s). Only minor complications were noted—transient dizziness in two and transient nystagmus in one patient. Our ‘two-needle technique’ is a new, safe and effective non-surgical treatment for cervical radiculopathy.
doi:10.1007/s00586-008-0600-6
PMCID: PMC2295277  PMID: 18204941
Cervical radiculopathy; Selective nerve root block; Two-needle technique; Steroid; Cervical spondylosis
8.  Translaminar Microendoscopic Herniotomy for Cranially Migrated Lumbar Disc Herniations Encroaching on the Exiting Nerve Root in the Preforaminal and Foraminal Zones 
Asian Spine Journal  2013;7(3):190-195.
Study Design
Case series.
Purpose
The aim of this study was to describe translaminar microendoscopic herniotomy (TL-MEH) for cranially migrated lumbar disc herniations encroaching on the exiting nerve root in the preforaminal and foraminal zones and to report preliminary results of the procedure.
Overview of Literature
Conventional interlaminar approaches for preforaminal and foraminal lumbar disc herniations result in extensive removal of the lamina and facet joint to remove disc fragments safely. More destructive approaches increase the risk of postoperative segmental instability.
Methods
TL-MEH is a minimally invasive procedure for herniotomy via the translaminar approach using a microendoscopic technique. TL-MEH was performed in seven patients with a cranially migrated lumbar disc herniation encroaching on the exiting nerve root. The disc fragments were located in the preforaminal zone in four patients, and in the preforaminal and foraminal zones in three.
Results
All patients experienced immediate relief from symptoms after surgery and satisfactory results at the final follow-up. Surgical complications, such as a dural tear, nerve injury, and surgical site infection, were not investigated.
Conclusions
TL-MEH seemed to be an effective and safe alternative minimally invasive surgical option for patients with a cranially migrated lumbar disc herniation encroaching the exiting nerve root in the preforaminal and foraminal zones.
doi:10.4184/asj.2013.7.3.190
PMCID: PMC3779770  PMID: 24066214
Lumbar disc herniation; Endoscopic surgery; Translaminar approach; Tubular surgery
9.  Differentiation between Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Extraforaminal Stenosis in Lumbosacral Transitional Vertebra: Role of Three-Dimensional Magnetic Resonance Lumbosacral Radiculography 
Korean Journal of Radiology  2012;13(4):403-411.
Objective
To investigate the role of lumbosacral radiculography using 3-dimentional (3D) magnetic resonance (MR) rendering for diagnostic information of symptomatic extraforaminal stenosis in lumbosacral transitional vertebra.
Materials and Methods
The study population consisted of 18 patients with symptomatic (n = 10) and asymptomatic extraforaminal stenosis (n = 8) in lumbosacral transitional vertebra. Each patient underwent 3D coronal fast-field echo sequences with selective water excitation using the principles of the selective excitation technique (Proset imaging). Morphologic changes of the L5 nerve roots at the symptomatic and asymptomatic extraforaminal stenosis were evaluated on 3D MR rendered images of the lumbosacral spine.
Results
Ten cases with symptomatic extraforaminal stenosis showed hyperplasia and degenerative osteophytes of the sacral ala and/or osteophytes at the lateral margin of the L5 body. On 3D MR lumbosacral radiculography, indentation of the L5 nerve roots was found in two cases, while swelling of the nerve roots was seen in eight cases at the exiting nerve root. Eight cases with asymptomatic extraforaminal stenosis showed hyperplasia and degenerative osteophytes of the sacral ala and/or osteophytes at the lateral margin of the L5 body. Based on 3D MR lumbosacral radiculography, indentation or swelling of the L5 nerve roots was not found in any cases with asymptomatic extraforaminal stenosis.
Conclusion
Results from 3D MR lumbosacral radiculography Indicate the indentation or swelling of the L5 nerve root in symptomatic extraforaminal stenosis. Based on these findings, 3D MR radiculography may be helpful in the diagnosis of the symptomatic extraforaminal stenosis with lumbosacral transitional vertebra.
doi:10.3348/kjr.2012.13.4.403
PMCID: PMC3384821  PMID: 22778561
Extraforaminal stenosis; MRI; Spinal nerve root
10.  Modified transcorporeal anterior cervical microforaminotomy assisted by O-arm-based navigation: a technical case report 
European Spine Journal  2010;20(Suppl 2):147-152.
This study was done to present our surgical experience of modified transcorporeal anterior cervical microforaminotomy (MTACM) assisted by the O-arm-based navigation system for the treatment of cervical disc herniation. We present eight patients with foraminal disc herniations at the C5–C6, C6–C7, and C7–T1 levels. All patients had unilateral radicular arm pain and motor weakness. The inclusion criteria for the patients were the presence of single-level unilateral foraminal cervical disc herniation manifesting persistent radiculopathy despite conservative treatment. Hard disc herniation, down-migrated disc herniation, concomitant moderate to severe bony spur and foraminal stenosis were excluded. We performed MTACM to expose the foraminal area of the cervical disc and removed the herniated disc fragments successfully using O-arm-based navigation. Postoperatively, the patients’ symptoms improved and there was no instability during the follow-up period. MTACM assisted by O-arm-based navigation is an effective, safe, and precise minimally invasive procedure that tends to preserve non-degenerated structures as much as possible while providing a complete removal of ruptured disc fragments in the cervical spine.
doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1454-2
PMCID: PMC3111514  PMID: 20490870
Cervical disc herniation; Modified transcorporeal anterior cervical microforaminotomy; Minimally invasive; Navigation; O-arm
11.  Morphological changes of the ligamentum flavum as a cause of nerve root compression 
European Spine Journal  2004;14(3):277-286.
The ligamentum flavum is considered to be one of the important causes of radiculopathy in lumbar degenerative disease. Although there have been several reports anatomically examining the positional relationship between the ligamentum flavum and nerve root, there are few reports on ventral observation. The purpose of this study is to clarify the shape of the ligamentum flavum seen ventrally, and to obtain anatomic findings related to nerve root compression. The subjects were 18 adult embalmed cadavers, with an average age of 78 years at the time of death. The ventral shapes of the ligamentum flavum were observed. The relationships between the morphological change of the ligamentum flavum and nerve root compression or radiographic findings were statistically evaluated. Among the shapes of the ligamentum flavum, bulging of the ligament was most frequently observed. Proximal bulging indicates the type with the cranial portion bulging from the subarticular zone to the foraminal zone of the ligamentum flavum. In this type associated with a decrease in disc height, nerve root compression was frequently observed. Thus, we could more realistically grasp the relationship between bulging morphology of the ligamentum flavum and nerve root compression.
doi:10.1007/s00586-004-0782-5
PMCID: PMC3476746  PMID: 15583951
Lumbar spine; Ligamentum flavum; Anatomy; Nerve root compression; Disc height
12.  Clinical and Radiological Outcomes of Unilateral Facetectomy and Interbody Fusion Using Expandable Cages for Lumbosacral Foraminal Stenosis 
Objective
Surgical treatment of lumbosacral foraminal stenosis requires an understanding of the anatomy of the lumbosacral area in individual patients. Unilateral facetectomy has been used to completely decompress entrapment of the L5 nerve root, followed in some patients by posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with stand-alone cages.
Methods
We assessed 34 patients with lumbosacral foraminal stenosis who were treated with unilateral facetectomy and PLIF using stand-alone cages in our center from January 2004 to September 2007. All the patients underwent follow-up X-rays, including a dynamic view, at 3, 6, 12, 24 months, and computed tomography (CT) at 24 months postoperatively. Clinical outcomes were analyzed with the mean numeric rating scale (NRS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and Odom's criteria. Radiological outcomes were assessed with change of disc height, defined as the average of anterior, middle, and posterior height in plain X-rays. In addition, lumbosacral fusion was also assessed with dynamic X-ray and CT.
Results
Mean NRS score, which was 9.29 prior to surgery, was 1.5 at 18 months after surgery. The decrease in NRS was statistically significant. Excellent and good groups with regard to Odom's criteria were 31 cases (91%) and three cases (9%) were fair. Pre-operative mean ODI of 28.4 decreased to 14.2 at post-operative 24 months. In 30 patients, a bone bridge on CT scan was identified. The change in disc height was 8.11 mm, 10.02 mm and 9.63 mm preoperatively, immediate postoperatively and at 24 months after surgery, respectively.
Conclusion
In the treatment of lumbosacral foraminal stenosis, unilateral facetectomy and interbody fusion using expandable stand-alone cages may be considered as one treatment option to maintain post-operative alignment and to obtain satisfactory clinical outcomes.
doi:10.3340/jkns.2010.48.6.496
PMCID: PMC3053543  PMID: 21430975
Expandable cage; Foraminal stenosis; Lumbosacral spine
13.  Foraminal stenosis complicating retained broken epidural needle tip -A case report- 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2010;59(Suppl):S69-S72.
Lumbar epidural anesthesia is useful in a variety of chronic benign pain syndromes, including lumbar radiculopathy, low back pain syndrome, spinal stenosis, and vertebral compression fractures. Given the increased number of epidural nerve blocks being performed, some have reported unexplained complications of a transient or permanent nature and with varying degrees of severity. However, no case has been reported of a broken epidural needle tip retained in the lumbar facet joint area. This represents the first reported case presentation of foraminal stenosis developing in a patient after a retained epidural needle tip.
doi:10.4097/kjae.2010.59.S.S69
PMCID: PMC3030061  PMID: 21286465
Broken epidural needle tip; Epidural anesthesia; Spinal stenosis
14.  Peroneal neuropathy misdiagnosed as L5 radiculopathy: a case report 
Objective
The purpose of this case report is to describe a patient who presented with a case of peroneal neuropathy that was originally diagnosed and treated as a L5 radiculopathy.
Clinical features
A 53-year old female registered nurse presented to a private chiropractic practice with complaints of left lateral leg pain. Three months earlier she underwent elective left L5 decompression surgery without relief of symptoms.
Intervention and outcome
Lumbar spine MRI seven months prior to lumbar decompression surgery revealed left neural foraminal stenosis at L5-S1. The patient symptoms resolved after she stopped crossing her legs.
Conclusion
This report discusses a case of undiagnosed peroneal neuropathy that underwent lumbar decompression surgery for a L5 radiculopathy. This case study demonstrates the importance of a thorough clinical examination and decision making that ensures proper patient diagnosis and management.
doi:10.1186/2045-709X-21-12
PMCID: PMC3662609  PMID: 23618508
Peroneal neuropathy; Lumbar radiculopathy; Chiropractic
15.  Posterior Decompression and Fusion in Patients with Multilevel Lumbar Foraminal Stenosis: A Comparison of Segmental Decompression and Wide Decompression 
Asian Spine Journal  2011;5(2):100-106.
Study Design
This is a prospective study.
Purpose
We compared the outcomes of segmental decompression and wide decompression in patients who had multilevel lumbar foraminal stenosis with back pain.
Overview of Literature
Wide decompression and fusion in patients with multilevel lumbar foraminal stenosis may increase the risk of perioperative complications.
Methods
From March 2005 to December 2007, this study prospectively examined 87 patients with multilevel lumbar foraminal stenosis and who were treated by segmental or wide decompression along with posterior fusion using pedicle screw fixation, and these patients could be followed-up for a minimum of 2 years. Of the 87 patients, 45 and 42 patients were assigned to the segmental decompression group (group 1) and the wide decompression group (group 2), respectively. We compared the clinical and radiological outcomes of the patients in these two groups.
Results
There were no significant differences between groups 1 and 2 in terms of the levels of postoperative pain based on the visual analogue scale, the Oswestry Disability Score, the clinical results based on the Kirkaldy-Willis Criteria, the complication rate or the posterior fusion rate. On the other hand, the mean operating times in groups 1 and 2 were 153 ± 32 minutes and 187 ± 36 minutes, respectively (p < 0.05). The amount of blood loss during surgery and on the first postoperative day was 840 ± 236 ml and 1,040 ± 301 ml in groups 1 and 2, respectively (p < 0.05).
Conclusions
These results suggest that segmental decompression offers promising and reproducible clinical and radiological results for patients suffering from multilevel lumbar foraminal stenosis.
doi:10.4184/asj.2011.5.2.100
PMCID: PMC3095798  PMID: 21629484
Multilevel lumbar foraminal stenosis; Segmental decompression; Wide decompression
16.  Cervical disc herniation presenting with neck pain and contralateral symptoms: a case report 
Introduction
Cervical disc herniation often results in neck and arm pain in patients as a result of direct impingement of nerve roots and associated inflammatory processes. The clinical presentation usually corresponds with the side of herniation and ipsilateral symptoms predominate the clinical picture.
Case presentation
A 35-year-old Caucasian man presented to our facility with neck pain and left-sided upper and lower extremity pain. A magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed a right paramedian herniated disc at the C5 to C6 level. All other cervical levels were normal without central canal stenosis or neural foraminal stenosis. Results from magnetic reasonance imaging scans of the brain and lumbar spine were negative. An anterior cervical discectomy was performed at the C5 to C6 level, and an inter-body graft and plate were placed. Our patient had complete resolution of his neck and left arm pain.
Conclusions
Anterior discectomy and fusion of the cervical spine resulted in complete resolution of our patient’s neck and left arm symptoms and improvement of his contralateral left leg pain. Cervical disc herniation may present with contralateral symptoms that are different from the current perception of this disease.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-166
PMCID: PMC3411405  PMID: 22741922
Cervical; Contralateral symptoms; Disc herniation; Radiculopathy
17.  Lumbar spinal stenosis. 
Western Journal of Medicine  1993;158(2):171-177.
Lumbar spinal stenosis, the results of congenital and degenerative constriction of the neural canal and foramina leading to lumbosacral nerve root or cauda equina compression, is a common cause of disability in middle-aged and elderly patients. Advanced neuroradiologic imaging techniques have improved our ability to localize the site of nerve root entrapment in patients presenting with neurogenic claudication or painful radiculopathy. Although conservative medical management may be successful initially, surgical decompression by wide laminectomy or an intralaminar approach should be done in patients with serious or progressive pain or neurologic dysfunction. Because the early diagnosis and treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis may prevent intractable pain and the permanent neurologic sequelae of chronic nerve root entrapment, all physicians should be aware of the different neurologic presentations and the treatment options for patients with spinal stenosis.
Images
PMCID: PMC1021971  PMID: 8434469
18.  Lumbar spinal stenosis treatment with aperius perclid interspinous system 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(Suppl 1):69-74.
Purpose
The purpose of this study is to report clinical outcome and imaging changes of percutaneous Aperius stand-alone implant in patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis and neurogenic intermittent claudication, which did not respond to conservative treatment.
Method
Between January 2008 and July 2010, 37 patients (20 males and 17 females) with mean age of 64.3 years underwent surgery for the onset of claudicatio spinalis with Aperius PercLID interspinous device (Medtronic). In all patients, the diagnosis was: foraminal stenosis, in one case (2.7 %) it was associated to a degenerative anterior listhesis (I grade), in three cases (8.1 %) it was associated to an intraforaminal disc herniation. The mean follow-up was of 18 months (range 2–35 months). The patients were evaluated through the Oswestry disability index, Zurich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ), VAS scales. In all cases were obtained preoperative and in postoperative radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging.
Results
The VAS score decreased significantly after surgery: the patients presented a mean VAS of seven preoperatively and two postoperatively (p < 0.001).
The ZCQ score significantly decreased postoperatively, with an average reduction of 21.89 % (p < 0.001).
The ODI score as well showed a significant reduction postoperatively of an average 26.09 % (p < 0.001).
Conclusion
Despite of the brief follow up, the preliminary results are encouraging, showing a significantly decrease of the disability parameters, a marked improvement of the function with the vanishing of the claudicatio spinalis and the following increase of the free interval during the walk. Aperius PercLID system seems to offer an alternative to the traditional decompression surgery.
doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2222-2
PMCID: PMC3325379  PMID: 22430539
Lumbar spinal stenosis; Neurogenic intermittent claudication; Laminectomy; Interspinous device; MRI
19.  Reliability of Readings of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Features of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis 
Spine  2008;33(14):1605-1610.
Study Design
A reliability assessment of standardized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) interpretations and measurements.
Objective
To determine the intra- and inter-reader reliability of MRI features of lumbar spinal stenosis (SPS), including severity of central, subarticular, and foraminal stenoses, grading of nerve root impingement, and measurements of cross-sectional area of the spinal canal and thecal sac.
Summary of Background Data
MRI is commonly used to assess patients with spinal stenosis. Although a number of studies have evaluated the reliability of certain MRI characteristics, comprehensive evaluation of the reliability of MRI readings in spinal stenosis is lacking.
Methods
Fifty-eight randomly selected MR images from patients with SPS enrolled in the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial were evaluated. Qualitative ratings of imaging features were performed according to defined criteria by 4 independent readers (3 radiologists and 1 orthopedic surgeon). A sample of 20 MRIs was reevaluated by each reader at least 1 month later. Weighted κ statistics were used to characterize intra- and inter-reader reliability for qualitative rating data. Separate quantitative measurements were performed by 2 other radiologists. Intraclass correlation coefficients and summaries of measurement error were used to characterize reliability for quantitative measurements.
Results
Intra-reader reliability was higher than interreader reliability for all features. Inter-reader reliability in assessing central stenosis was substantial, with an overall κ of 0.73 (95% CI 0.69-0.77). Foraminal stenosis and nerve root impingement showed moderate to substantial agreement with overall κ of 0.58 (95% CI 0.53-0.63) and 0.51 (95% CI 0.42-0.59), respectively. Subarticular zone stenosis yielded the poorest agreement (overall κ 0.49; 95% CI 0.42-0.55) and showed marked variability in agreement between reader pairs. Quantitative measures showed inter-reader intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from 0.58 to 0.90. The mean absolute difference between readers in measured thecal sac area was 128 mm2 (13%).
Conclusion
The imaging characteristics of spinal stenosis assessed in this study showed moderate to substantial reliability; future studies should assess whether these findings have prognostic significance in SPS patients.
doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181791af3
PMCID: PMC2754786  PMID: 18552677
spinal stenosis; MRI; reliability
20.  Solitary Epidural Lipoma with Ipsilateral Facet Arthritis Causing Lumbar Radiculopathy 
Asian Spine Journal  2012;6(3):203-206.
A 55-year-old obese man (body mass index, 31.6 kg/m2) presented radiating pain and motor weakness in the left leg. Magnetic resonance imaging showed an epidural mass posterior to the L5 vertebral body, which was isosignal to subcutaneous fat and it asymmetrically compressed the left side of the cauda equina and the exiting left L5 nerve root on the axial T1 weighted images. Severe arthritis of the left facet joint and edema of the bone marrow regarding the left pedicle were also found. As far as we know, there have been no reports concerning a solitary epidural lipoma combined with ipsilateral facet arthorsis causing lumbar radiculopathy. Solitary epidural lipoma with ipsilateral facet arthritis causing lumbar radiculopathy was removed after the failure of conservative treatment. After decompression, the neurologic deficit was relieved. At a 2 year follow-up, motor weakness had completely recovered and the patient was satisfied with the result. We recommend that a solitary epidural lipoma causing neurologic deficit should be excised at the time of diagnosis.
doi:10.4184/asj.2012.6.3.203
PMCID: PMC3429612  PMID: 22977701
Solitary epidural lipoma; Posterior facet; Ipsilateral arthritis; Lumbar radiculopathy
21.  A Prospective, Observational Study of the Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Depth of the Epidural Space During Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection 
Background and Objectives
Previous studies have concluded that transforaminal epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are more effective than interlaminar injections in the treatment of radiculopathies due to lumbar intervertebral disk herniation. There are no published studies examining the depth of epidural space using a transforaminal approach. We investigated the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the depth of the epidural space during lumbar transforaminal ESIs.
Methods
Eighty-six consecutive patients undergoing lumbar transforaminal ESI at the L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1 levels were studied. Using standard protocol, the foraminal epidural space was attained using fluoroscopic guidance. The measured distance from needle tip to skin was recorded (depth to foraminal epidural space). The differences in the needle depth and BMI were analyzed using regression analysis.
Results
Needle depth was positively associated with BMI (regression coefficient [RC], 1.13; P < 0.001). The median depths (in centimeters) to the epidural space were 6.3, 7.5, 8.4, 10.0, 10.4, and 12.2 for underweight, normal, preobese, obese I, obese II, and obese III classifications, respectively. Sex (RC, 1.3; P = 0.02) and race (RC, 0.8; P = 0.04) were also significantly associated with needle depth; however, neither factor remained significant when BMI was accounted as a covariate in the regression model. Age, intervertebral level treated, and oblique angle had no predictive value on foraminal depth (P > 0.2).
Conclusion
There is a positive association between BMI and transforaminal epidural depth, but not with age, sex, race, oblique angle, or intervertebral level.
doi:10.1097/AAP.0b013e31819a12ba
PMCID: PMC2715548  PMID: 19282707
22.  Focal neuromyotonia as a presenting feature of lumbosacral radiculopathy 
Neuromyotonia is characterized by motor, sensory, and autonomic features along with characteristic electrophysiologic findings, resulting from hyperexcitability of the peripheral nerves. We describe the case of a 36-year-old man, who presented with the disabling symptoms suggestive of focal neuromyotonia involving both the lower limbs. His neurological examination revealed continuous rippling of both the calf muscles with normal power, reflexes, and sensory examination. Electrophysiology revealed spontaneous activity in the form of doublets, triplets, and neuromyotonic discharges along with the neurogenic motor unit potentials in bilateral L5, S1 innervated muscles. Magnetic resonance imaging lumbosacral spine revealed lumbar intervertebral disc protrusion with severe foraminal and spinal canal stenosis. Patient had good response to steroids and carbamazepine. The disabling focal neuromyotonia, occurring as a result of chronic active radiculopathy, brought the patient to medical attention. Patient responded to medical management.
doi:10.4103/0972-2327.120464
PMCID: PMC3841633  PMID: 24339612
Electrophysiology; magnetic resonance imaging; neuromyotonia; radiculopathy
23.  Higher risk of dural tears and recurrent herniation with lumbar micro-endoscopic discectomy 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(3):443-450.
Existing studies on micro-endoscopic lumbar discectomy report similar outcomes to those of open and microdiscectomy and conflicting results on complications. We designed a randomised controlled trial to investigate the hypothesis of different outcomes and complications obtainable with the three techniques. 240 patients aged 18–65 years affected by posterior lumbar disc herniation and symptoms lasting over 6 weeks of conservative management were randomised to micro-endoscopic (group 1), micro (group 2) or open (group 3) discectomy. Exclusion criteria were less than 6 weeks of pain duration, cauda equina compromise, foraminal or extra-foraminal herniations, spinal stenosis, malignancy, previous spinal surgery, spinal deformity, concurrent infection and rheumatic disease. Surgery and follow-up were made at a single Institution. A biomedical researcher independently collected and reviewed the data. ODI, back and leg VAS and SF-36 were the outcome measures used preoperatively, postoperatively and at 6-, 12- and 24-month follow-up. 212/240 (91%) patients completed the 24-month follow-up period. VAS back and leg, ODI and SF36 scores showed clinically and statistically significant improvements within groups without significant difference among groups throughout follow-up. Dural tears, root injuries and recurrent herniations were significantly more common in group 1. Wound infections were similar in group 2 and 3, but did not affect patients in group 1. Overall costs were significantly higher in group 1 and lower in group 3. In conclusion, outcome measures are equivalent 2 years following lumbar discectomy with micro-endoscopy, microscopy or open technique, but severe complications are more likely and costs higher with micro-endoscopy.
doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1290-4
PMCID: PMC2899770  PMID: 20127495
Lumbar disc herniation; Discectomy; Microdiscectomy; Micro-endoscopic discectomy
24.  Is the Transport of a Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agent Decreased in a Degenerated or Aged Disc? A Post Contrast MRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76697.
A post contrast magnetic resonance imaging study has been performed in a wide population of low back pain patients to investigate which radiological and phenotypic characteristics influence the penetration of the contrast agent in lumbar discs in vivo. 37 patients affected by different pathologies (disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, foraminal stenosis, central canal stenosis) were enrolled in the study. The selected population included 26 male and 11 female subjects, with a mean age of 42.4±9.3 years (range 18–60). Magnetic resonance images of the lumbar spine were obtained with a 1.5 T scanner (Avanto, Siemens, Erlangen, Germany) with a phased-array back coil. A paramagnetic non–ionic contrast agent was injected with a dose of 0.4 ml/kg. T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were subsequently acquired at 5 time points, 5 and 10 minutes, 2, 4 and 6 hours after injection. Endplates presented clear enhancement already 5 minutes after injection, and showed an increase in the next 2 hours followed by a decrease. At 5 and 10 minutes, virtually no contrast medium was present inside the intervertebral disc; afterwards, enhancement significantly increased. Highly degenerated discs showed higher enhancement in comparison with low and medium degenerated discs. Discs classified as Pfirrmann 5 showed a statistically significant higher enhancement than Pfirrmann 1, 2 and 3 at all time points but the first one, possibly due to vascularization. Disc height collapse and Modic changes significantly increased enhancement. Presence of endplate defects did not show any significant influence on post contrast enhancement, but the lack of a clear classification of endplate defects as seen on magnetic resonance scans may be shadowing some effects. In conclusion, disc height, high level of degeneration and presence of Modic changes are factors which increase post contrast enhancement in the intervertebral disc. The effect of age could not be demonstrated.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076697
PMCID: PMC3795705  PMID: 24146913
25.  Contralateral radiculopathy after transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion 
European Spine Journal  2007;16(Suppl 3):311-314.
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is an effective treatment for patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease. Opposite side radiculopathy after the TLIF procedure has been recognized in this institution but has not been addressed in the literature. We present a case of opposite side radiculopathy after the TLIF procedure. We believe that this complication is related to asymptomatic stenosis on the contralateral side that is unmasked by the increased lordosis of the TLIF. The authors recommend increasing both disc height and foraminal height when choosing an interbody graft, and possibly decompressing the opposite foramen when preoperative MRI demonstrates foraminal stenosis.
doi:10.1007/s00586-007-0387-x
PMCID: PMC2148093  PMID: 17487514
TLIF; Complication; Spondylolisthesis; Radiculopathy

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