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Dorsal Root Entry Zone Lesions for Phantom Limb Pain with Brachial Plexus Avulsion: A Study of Pain and Phantom Limb Sensation

Zheng Z. · Hu Y. · Tao W. · Zhang X. · Li Y.
Beijing Institute of Functional Neurosurgery, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, PR China Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 2009;87:249–255 (DOI:10.1159/000225978)


Background: Lesions in the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) have been shown to be significantly effective in relieving the pain of brachial plexus avulsion (BPA), but they have a limited effect on phantom limb pain (PLP). There is still the question remaining of whether DREZ lesions are effective in treating PLP in cases of BPA. Methods: Our study includes 14 post-traumatic patients with BPA and upper limb amputation. All developed PLP and underwent DREZ lesions. After the surgery, patients were asked to estimate the global percent of pain relief (0–100%). The phantom limb sensation (PLS) was also inquired after. Results: Overall, 9 (64.3%) of 14 patients had satisfactory pain relief; the mean follow-up was 15.2 ± 6.6 months. Among the 9 patients with satisfactory pain relief, PLS had altered in 6 (66.7%), while, in the other 5 patients with poor pain relief, none had experienced alterations in PLS. Conclusion: DREZ lesions are effective in the treatment of PLP with BPA. Alteration in PLS after the surgery may be a predictive factor for good pain relief. The good response of PLP patients with BPA to DREZ lesions suggests that an evaluation of the cervical dorsal roots should be conducted in patients with post-traumatic PLP.


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