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Papers of the Week

2021 Jan 07

Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown)

How to Do It: Microsurgical DREZotomy for Pain After Brachial Plexus Injury: 2-Dimensional Operative Video.


Duraffourg M, Brinzeu A, Sindou M
Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2021 Jan 07.
PMID: 33412582.


More than three-quarters of victims of brachial plexus injury suffer from refractory neuropathic pain.1-6 Main putative mechanism is paroxysmal hyperactivity in the dorsal horn neurons at the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) as demonstrated by microelectrode recordings in animal models7 and patients.8 Pain relief can be achieved by lesioning the responsible neurons in the spinal cord segments with avulsed rootlets.9,10  This video illustrates the technique for microsurgical DREZotomy.11,12 A C3-C7 hemilaminectomy is performed to access the C4-Th1 medullary segments. After opening the dura and arachnoid, and freeing the cord from arachnoid adhesions, the dorsolateral sulcus is identified. Identification can be difficult when the spinal cord is distorted and/or has a loss of substance. The dorsolateral sulcus is then opened with a microknife, so that microcoagulations are performed: 4 mm deep, at 35° angle in the axis of the dorsal horn, every millimeter in a dotted fashion along the avulsed segments. Care should be taken not to damage the corticospinal tract, laterally, and the dorsal column, medially.  The patient consents to the procedure. In the presented case, surgery led to complete disappearance of the paroxysmal pain and reduced the background of burning pain to a bearable level without the need of opioid medication. There was no motor deficit or ataxia in the ipsilateral lower limb postoperatively. According to Kaplan-Meier analysis at 10 yr follow-up, in our overall series, microsurgical DREZotomy achieved total pain relief without any medication in 60% of patients, and in 85% without the need for opioids.10,13-15  Microelectrode recording at 1:26 reproduced from Guenot et al7 with permission from JNSPG.