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White Matter Changes in Cervical Dystonia Relate to Clinical Effectiveness of Botulinum Toxin Treatment.
In a previous report showing white matter microstructural hemispheric asymmetries medial to the pallidum in focal dystonias, we showed preliminary evidence that this abnormality was reduced 4 weeks after botulinum toxin (BTX) injections. In the current study we report the completed treatment study in a full-size cohort of CD patients (n = 14). In addition to showing a shift toward normalization of the hemispheric asymmetry, we evaluated clinical relevance of these findings by relating white matter changes to degree of symptom improvement. We also evaluated whether the magnitude of the white matter asymmetry before treatment was related to severity, laterality, duration of dystonia, and/or number of previous BTX injections. Our results confirm the findings of our preliminary report: we observed significant fractional anisotropy (FA) changes medial to the pallidum 4 weeks after BTX in CD participants that were not observed in controls scanned at the same interval. There was a significant relationship between magnitude of hemispheric asymmetry and dystonia symptom improvement, as measured by percent reduction in dystonia scale scores. There was also a trend toward a relationship between magnitude of pre-injection white matter asymmetry and symptom severity, but not symptom laterality, disorder duration, or number of previous BTX injections. Post-hoc analyses suggested the FA changes at least partially reflected changes in pathophysiology, but a dissociation between patient perception of benefit from injections and FA changes suggested the changes did not reflect changes to the primary "driver" of the dystonia. In contrast, there were no changes or group differences in DTI diffusivity measures, suggesting the hemispheric asymmetry in CD does not reflect irreversible white matter tissue loss. These findings support the hypothesis that central nervous system white matter changes are involved in the mechanism by which BTX exerts clinical benefit.
External validation of the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2) prediction of in-hospital death in patients with type II respiratory failure: a multi-centre database study [protocol]
Abstract Background: The National Early Warning Score (NEWS), a vital-signs-based early warning score (EWS), has been suggested to perform poorly in patients with hypercapnic respiratory failure. A newly updated version (NEWS2) includes modified peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) thresholds for such patients and additional weightings for higher SpO2 values if they are receiving oxygen therapy. NEWS2 has been mandated for use in acute NHS hospitals. However, these changes await validation. Prior to the publication of NEWS2, the Chronic Respiratory Early Warning Score (CREWS) had been proposed as an adjustment to NEWS for these patients. Methods: Retrospective observational cohort study using the HAVEN database of admissions to four Oxford University Hospitals January - December 2016 and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust January 2012- December 2016. Our primary endpoint will be the ability of NEWS2, NEWS and CREWS to predict in-hospital death within 24 hours of an observation set in patients with and without type II respiratory failure. Secondary endpoints will include cardiac arrest, intensive care admission and the first of intensive care admission, cardiac arrest or in-hospital death. We will conduct subgroup analyses using different methods for identifying patients with or at risk of type II respiratory failure. We will use the C-statistic to assess discrimination and report sensitivities, specificities and predictive values at recognized cut-offs. To assess the incremental change between NEWS and NEWS2 of the new thresholds for COPD we will present change in the C-statistic. Conclusion: We will provide the first multi-centre assessment of whether the changes in NEWS2 have led to improved discrimination of adverse outcomes in patients with type II respiratory failure, without the disadvantaging the performance in patients without this condition.
Choroideremia is an X-linked recessive retinal degeneration predominantly affecting hemizygous males. It is caused by mutations in the CHM gene that encodes the Rab escort protein-1. Characteristic features include early nyctalopia followed by progressive constriction of peripheral visual fields and sparing of the central vision until late in life with a distinct fundoscopic appearance. We present the case of a 17-year-old male with a c.282delT in exon 4 of CHM that has not previously been reported. Phenotypically this patient presented with an atypical choroideremia phenotype of early central macular degeneration in addition to the classic peripheral fundus characteristic findings.
Working memory (WM) is essential for normal cognitive function, but shows marked decline in aging. The importance of selective attention in guiding WM performance is increasingly recognized. Studies so far are inconclusive about the ability to use selective attention during WM in aging. To investigate the neural mechanisms supporting selective attention in WM in aging, we tested a large group of older adults using functional magnetic resonance imaging whilst they performed a category-based (faces/houses) selective-WM task. Older adults were able to use attention to encode targets and suppress distractors to reach high levels of task performance. A subsequent, surprise recognition-memory task showed strong consequences of selective attention. Attended items in the relevant category were recognized significantly better than items in the ignored category. Neural measures also showed reliable markers of selective attention during WM. Purported control regions including the dorsolateral and inferior prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex were reliably recruited for attention to both categories. Activation levels in category-sensitive visual cortex showed reliable modulation according to attentional demands, and positively correlated with subsequent memory measures of attention and WM span. Psychophysiological interaction analyses showed that activity in category-sensitive areas were coupled with non-sensory cortex known to be involved in cognitive control and memory processing, including regions in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. In summary, we found that older adults were able to recruit a network of brain regions involved in top-down attention during selective WM, and individual differences in attentional control corresponded to the degree of attention-related modulation in the brain.
The Importance of the Location of Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulator Electrodes Within the Nerve Root Exit Foramen.
OBJECTIVE: To quantify the relationship between the electrical power requirement to achieve pain relief and the position of the active electrode of dorsal root ganglion stimulators within the spinal nerve root exit foramen. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data of 92 consecutive patients undergoing dorsal root ganglion stimulation (DRGS) for chronic pain in a single center. Cervical and sacral cases, and failed trials/explanted DRGS were excluded, so we report on 57 patients with 78 implanted leads. Anteroposterior and lateral fluoroscopic images of the lead in the exit foramen were examined, and the active electrode positions were put into categories depending on their location relative to fixed anatomical landmarks. The clinical outcome and the power requirements for each of these groups of electrodes were then analyzed. Overall pain outcome was assessed by numeric pain rating scale score pre-operatively and post-operatively. RESULTS: There was no significant relationship between power requirements and mediolateral electrode position, although the lowest average was observed with electrode positions directly below the center of the pedicle. On lateral x-ray, the lowest power requirements were observed in the electrodes positioned superodorsally or dorsally within the foramen. Importantly, power requirements in this location were consistently low, while the power requirements in other locations were not only higher but also much more variable. Electrodes in the superodorsal position required a median output power almost four times lower than electrodes in other positions (p = 0.002). Clinical outcome was not significantly related to power requirement or foraminal position. CONCLUSION: Aiming for a superodorsal electrode position on lateral intraoperative fluoroscopy is desirable, since siting leads in this location reduces the required stimulator output power very substantially and thus will extend battery life. Position within the foramen does not determine clinical outcome, and so the implanter can safely aim for the low power site without detriment to the analgesic efficacy of the system.
Patient centred variables with univariate associations with unplanned ICU admission: a systematic review.
BACKGROUND: Multiple predictive scores using Electronic Patient Record data have been developed for hospitalised patients at risk of clinical deterioration. Methods used to select patient centred variables for inclusion in these scores varies. We performed a systematic review to describe univariate associations with unplanned Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission with the aim of assisting model development for future scores that predict clinical deterioration. METHODS: Data sources were MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, CENTRAL and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Included studies were published since 2000 describing an association between patient centred variables and unplanned ICU admission determined using univariate analysis. Two authors independently screened titles, abstracts and full texts against inclusion and exclusion criteria. DistillerSR (Evidence Partners, Canada, Ottawa, Ontario) software was used to manage the data and identify duplicate search results. All screening and data extraction forms were implemented within DistillerSR. Study quality was assessed using an adapted version of the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Variables were analysed for strength of association with unplanned ICU admission. RESULTS: The database search yielded 1520 unique studies; 1462 were removed after title and abstract review; 57 underwent full text screening; 16 studies were included. One hundred and eighty nine variables with an evaluated univariate association with unplanned ICU admission were described. DISCUSSION: Being male, increasing age, a history of congestive cardiac failure or diabetes, a diagnosis of hepatic disease or having abnormal vital signs were all strongly associated with ICU admission. CONCLUSION: These findings will assist variable selection during the development of future models predicting unplanned ICU admission. TRIAL REGISTRATION: This study is a component of a larger body of work registered in the ISRCTN registry ( ISRCTN12518261 ).
Legal and ethical implications of defining an optimum means of achieving unconsciousness in assisted dying.
A decision by a society to sanction assisted dying in any form should logically go hand-in-hand with defining the acceptable method(s). Assisted dying is legal in several countries and we have reviewed the methods commonly used, contrasting these with an analysis of capital punishment in the USA. We expected that, since a common humane aim is to achieve unconsciousness at the point of death, which then occurs rapidly without pain or distress, there might be a single technique being used. However, the considerable heterogeneity in methods suggests that an optimum method of achieving unconsciousness remains undefined. In voluntary assisted dying (in some US states and European countries), the common method to induce unconsciousness appears to be self-administered barbiturate ingestion, with death resulting slowly from asphyxia due to cardiorespiratory depression. Physician-administered injections (a combination of general anaesthetic and neuromuscular blockade) are an option in Dutch guidelines. Hypoxic methods involving helium rebreathing have also been reported. The method of capital punishment (USA) resembles the Dutch injection technique, but specific drugs, doses and monitoring employed vary. However, for all these forms of assisted dying, there appears to be a relatively high incidence of vomiting (up to 10%), prolongation of death (up to 7 days), and re-awakening from coma (up to 4%), constituting failure of unconsciousness. This raises a concern that some deaths may be inhumane, and we have used lessons from the most recent studies of accidental awareness during anaesthesia to describe an optimal means that could better achieve unconsciousness. We found that the very act of defining an 'optimum' itself has important implications for ethics and the law.
Hippocampal network abnormalities explain amnesia after VGKCC-Ab related autoimmune limbic encephalitis.
OBJECTIVE: Limbic encephalitis associated with antibodies to components of the voltage-gated potassium channel complex (VGKCC-Ab-LE) often leads to hippocampal atrophy and persistent memory impairment. Its long-term impact on regions beyond the hippocampus, and the relationship between brain damage and cognitive outcome, are poorly understood. We investigated the nature of structural and functional brain abnormalities following VGKCC-Ab-LE and its role in residual memory impairment. METHOD: A cross-sectional group study was conducted. Twenty-four VGKCC-Ab-LE patients (20 male, 4 female; mean (SD) age 63.86 (11.31) years) were recruited post-acutely along with age- and sex-matched healthy controls for neuropsychological assessment, structural MRI and resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI). Structural abnormalities were determined using volumetry and voxel-based morphometry; rs-fMRI data were analysed to investigate hippocampal functional connectivity (FC). Associations of memory performance with neuroimaging measures were examined. RESULTS: Patients showed selective memory impairment. Structural analyses revealed focal hippocampal atrophy within the medial temporal lobes, correlative atrophy in the mediodorsal thalamus, and additional volume reduction in the posteromedial cortex. There was no association between regional volumes and memory performance. Instead, patients demonstrated reduced posteromedial cortico-hippocampal and inter-hippocampal FC, which correlated with memory scores (r = 0.553; r = 0.582, respectively). The latter declined as a function of time since the acute illness (r = -0.531). CONCLUSION: VGKCC-Ab-LE results in persistent isolated memory impairment. Patients have hippocampal atrophy with further reduced mediodorsal thalamic and posteromedial cortical volumes. Crucially, reduced FC of remaining hippocampal tissue correlates more closely with memory function than does regional atrophy.
Next generation sequencing techniques were recently used to show mutations in COL13A1 cause synaptic basal lamina-associated congenital myasthenic syndrome type 19. Animal studies showed COL13A1, a synaptic extracellular-matrix protein, is involved in the formation and maintenance of the neuromuscular synapse that appears independent of the Agrin-LRP4-MuSK-DOK7 acetylcholine receptor clustering pathway. Here, we report the phenotypic spectrum of 16 patients from 11 kinships harbouring homozygous or heteroallelic mutations in COL13A1. Clinical presentation was mostly at birth with hypotonia and breathing and feeding difficulties often requiring ventilation and artificial feeding. Respiratory crisis related to recurrent apnoeas, sometimes triggered by chest infections, were common early in life but resolved over time. The predominant pattern of muscle weakness included bilateral ptosis (non-fatigable in adulthood), myopathic facies and marked axial weakness, especially of neck flexion, while limb muscles were less involved. Other features included facial dysmorphism, skeletal abnormalities and mild learning difficulties. All patients tested had results consistent with abnormal neuromuscular transmission. Muscle biopsies were within normal limits or showed non-specific changes. Muscle MRI and serum creatine kinase levels were normal. In keeping with COL13A1 mutations affecting both synaptic structure and presynaptic function, treatment with 3,4-diaminopyridine and salbutamol resulted in motor and respiratory function improvement. In non-treated cases, disease severity and muscle strength improved gradually over time and several adults recovered normal muscle strength in the limbs. In summary, patients with COL13A1 mutations present mostly with severe early-onset myasthenic syndrome with feeding and breathing difficulties. Axial weakness is greater than limb weakness. Disease course improves gradually over time, which could be consistent with the less prominent role of COL13A1 once the neuromuscular junction is mature. This report emphasizes the role of collagens at the human muscle endplate and should facilitate the recognition of this disorder, which can benefit from pharmacological treatment.
BACKGROUND: Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a relapsing, autoimmune, inflammatory disorder that typically affects the optic nerves and spinal cord. At least two thirds of cases are associated with aquaporin-4 antibodies (AQP4-IgG) and complement-mediated damage to the central nervous system. In a previous small, open-label study involving patients with AQP4-IgG-positive disease, eculizumab, a terminal complement inhibitor, was shown to reduce the frequency of relapse. METHODS: In this randomized, double-blind, time-to-event trial, 143 adults were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive either intravenous eculizumab (at a dose of 900 mg weekly for the first four doses starting on day 1, followed by 1200 mg every 2 weeks starting at week 4) or matched placebo. The continued use of stable-dose immunosuppressive therapy was permitted. The primary end point was the first adjudicated relapse. Secondary outcomes included the adjudicated annualized relapse rate, quality-of-life measures, and the score on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), which ranges from 0 (no disability) to 10 (death). RESULTS: The trial was stopped after 23 of the 24 prespecified adjudicated relapses, given the uncertainty in estimating when the final event would occur. The mean (±SD) annualized relapse rate in the 24 months before enrollment was 1.99±0.94; 76% of the patients continued to receive their previous immunosuppressive therapy during the trial. Adjudicated relapses occurred in 3 of 96 patients (3%) in the eculizumab group and 20 of 47 (43%) in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02 to 0.20; P<0.001). The adjudicated annualized relapse rate was 0.02 in the eculizumab group and 0.35 in the placebo group (rate ratio, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.15; P<0.001). The mean change in the EDSS score was -0.18 in the eculizumab group and 0.12 in the placebo group (least-squares mean difference, -0.29; 95% CI, -0.59 to 0.01). Upper respiratory tract infections and headaches were more common in the eculizumab group. There was one death from pulmonary empyema in the eculizumab group. CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with AQP4-IgG-positive NMOSD, those who received eculizumab had a significantly lower risk of relapse than those who received placebo. There was no significant between-group difference in measures of disability progression. (Funded by Alexion Pharmaceuticals; PREVENT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01892345; EudraCT number, 2013-001150-10.).
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease caused by antibodies against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR), muscle-specific kinase (MuSK) or other AChR-related proteins in the postsynaptic muscle membrane. Localized or general muscle weakness is the predominant symptom and is induced by the antibodies. Patients are grouped according to the presence of antibodies, symptoms, age at onset and thymus pathology. Diagnosis is straightforward in most patients with typical symptoms and a positive antibody test, although a detailed clinical and neurophysiological examination is important in antibody-negative patients. MG therapy should be ambitious and aim for clinical remission or only mild symptoms with near-normal function and quality of life. Treatment should be based on MG subgroup and includes symptomatic treatment using acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, thymectomy and immunotherapy. Intravenous immunoglobulin and plasma exchange are fast-acting treatments used for disease exacerbations, and intensive care is necessary during exacerbations with respiratory failure. Comorbidity is frequent, particularly in elderly patients. Active physical training should be encouraged.
Pathogenic antibodies targeting the aquaporin-4 water channel on astrocytes are associated with relapsing inflammatory neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders. The clinical phenotype is characterized by recurrent episodes of optic neuritis, longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis, area postrema attacks and less common brainstem and cerebral events. Patients often develop major residual disability from these attacks, so early diagnosis and initiation of attackpreventing medications is important. Accurate prediction of relapse would assist physicians in counselling patients, planning treatment and designing clinical trials. We used a large multicentre dataset of 441 patients from the UK, USA, Japan and Martinique who collectively experienced 1976 attacks, and applied sophisticated mathematical modelling to predict likelihood of relapse and disability at different time points. We found that Japanese patients had a lower risk of subsequent attacks except for brainstem and cerebral events, with an overall relative relapse risk of 0.681 (P = 0.001) compared to Caucasians and African patients, who had a higher likelihood of cerebral attacks, with a relative relapse risk of 3.309 (P = 0.009) compared to Caucasians. Female patients had a higher chance of relapse than male patients (P = 0.009), and patients with younger age of onset were more likely to have optic neuritis relapses (P < 0.001). Immunosuppressant drugs reduced and multiple sclerosis disease-modifying agents increased the likelihood of relapse (P < 0.001). Patients with optic neuritis at onset were more likely to develop blindness (P < 0.001), and those with older age of onset were more likely to develop ambulatory disability. Only 25% of long-term disability was related to initial onset attack, indicating the importance of early attack prevention. With respect to selection of patients for clinical trial design, there would be no gain in power by selecting recent onset patients and only a small gain by selecting patients with recent high disease activity. We provide risk estimates of relapse and disability for patients diagnosed and treated with immunosuppressive treatments over the subsequent 2, 3, 5 and 10 years according to type of attack at onset or the first 2-year course, ethnicity, sex and onset age. This study supports significant effects of onset age, onset phenotype and ethnicity on neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders outcomes. Our results suggest that powering clinical treatment trials based upon relapse activity in the preceding 2 years may offer little benefit in the way of attack risk yet severely hamper clinical trial success.