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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a devastating rare disease that affects individuals regardless of ethnicity, gender, and age. The first-approved disease-modifying therapy for SMA, nusinursen, was approved by Health Canada, as well as by American and European regulatory agencies following positive clinical trial outcomes. The trials were conducted in a narrow pediatric population defined by age, severity, and genotype. Broad approval of therapy necessitates close follow-up of potential rare adverse events and effectiveness in the larger real-world population.
The Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry (CNDR) undertook an iterative multi-stakeholder process to expand the existing SMA dataset to capture items relevant to patient outcomes in a post-marketing environment. The CNDR SMA expanded registry is a longitudinal, prospective, observational study of patients with SMA in Canada designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of novel therapies and provide practical information unattainable in trials.
The consensus expanded dataset includes items that address therapy effectiveness and safety and is collected in a multicenter, prospective, observational study, including SMA patients regardless of therapeutic status. The expanded dataset is aligned with global datasets to facilitate collaboration. Additionally, consensus dataset development aimed to standardize appropriate outcome measures across the network and broader Canadian community. Prospective outcome studies, data use, and analyses are independent of the funding partner.
Prospective outcome data collected will provide results on safety and effectiveness in a post-therapy approval era. These data are essential to inform improvements in care and access to therapy for all SMA patients.
Advances in high-resolution ultrasound have provided clinicians with unique opportunities to study diseases of the peripheral nervous system. Ultrasound complements the clinical and electrophysiology exam by showing the degree of abnormalities in myopathies, as well as spontaneous muscle activities in motor neuron diseases and other disorders. In experienced hands, ultrasound is more sensitive than MRI in detecting peripheral nerve pathologies. It can also guide needle placement for electromyography exam, therapeutic injections, and muscle biopsy. Ultrasound enhances the ability to detect carpal tunnel syndrome and other focal nerve entrapment, as well as pathological nerve enlargements in genetic and acquired neuropathies. Furthermore, ultrasound can potentially be used as a biomarker for muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy. The combination of electromyography and ultrasound can increase the diagnostic certainty of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aid in the localization of brachial plexus or peripheral nerve trauma and allow for surveillance of nerve tumor progression in neurofibromatosis. Potential limitations of ultrasound include an inability to image deeper structures, with lower sensitivities in detecting neuromuscular diseases in young children and those with mitochondrial myopathies, due to subtle changes or early phase of the disease. As well, its utility in detecting critical illness neuromyopathy remains unclear. This review will focus on the clinical applications of neuromuscular ultrasound. The diagnostic values of ultrasound for screening of myopathies, neuropathies, and motor neuron diseases will be presented.
Neuromuscular ultrasound is a rapidly evolving technique for diagnosing, monitoring and facilitating treatment of patients with muscle and nerve disorders. It is a portable point-of-care technology that is non-invasive, painless and without ionizing radiation. Ultrasound can visualize muscle texture alterations indicating dystrophy or denervation, changes in size and anatomic continuity of nerve fascicles, and its dynamic imaging capabilities allow capturing of contractions and fasciculations. Ultrasound can also provide real-time guidance for needle placement, and can sometimes make a diagnosis when electromyography is not tolerated or not informative anymore. This review will focus on the technical and practical aspects of ultrasound as an imaging technique for muscles and nerves. It will discuss basic imaging principles, hardware and software setup, and provide examples of ultrasound use for visualizing muscle and nerve abnormalities with accuracy and confidence. The review is intended as a practical “how-to” guide to get started with neuromuscular ultrasound in daily practice.
Skeletal and cardiac muscle laminopathies, caused by mutations in the lamin A/C gene, have a clinical spectrum from congenital LMNA-related muscular dystrophy to later-onset Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, limb girdle muscular dystrophy, and dilated cardiomyopathy. Although cardiac involvement is observed at all ages, it has only been well described in adults. We present the evolution of cardiac disease in three children with congenital muscular dystrophy presentation of LMNA-related muscular dystrophy. In this series, atrial arrhythmia was the presenting cardiac finding in all three patients. Heart failure developed up to 5 years later. Symptoms of right heart failure, including diarrhoea and peripheral oedema, preceded a rapid decline in left ventricular ejection fraction. Recommendations for cardiac surveillance and management in these patients are made.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe cognitive, academic, and psychosocial outcomes after an incident demyelinating event (acquired demyelinating syndromes, ADS) in childhood and to investigate the contribution of brain lesions and confirmed MS diagnosis on outcome. Methods: Thirty-six patients with ADS (mean age=12.2 years, SD=2.7, range: 7–16 years) underwent brain MRI scans at presentation and at 6-months follow-up. T2-weighted lesions on MRI were assessed using a binary classification. At 6-months follow-up, patients underwent neuropsychological evaluation and were compared with 42 healthy controls. Results: Cognitive, academic, and behavioral outcomes did not differ between the patients with ADS and controls. Three of 36 patients (8.3%) were identified with cognitive impairment, as determined by performance falling ≤1.5 SD below normative values on more than four independent tests in the battery. Poor performance on a visuomotor integration task was most common, observed among 6/32 patients, but this did not differ significantly from controls. Twelve of 36 patients received a diagnosis of MS within 3 years post-ADS. Patients with MS did not differ from children with monophasic ADS in terms of cognitive performance at the 6-months follow-up. Fatigue symptoms were reported in 50% of patients, irrespective of MS diagnosis. Presence of brain lesions at onset and 6 months post-incident demyelinating event did not associate with cognitive outcome. Conclusions: Children with ADS experience a favorable short-term neurocognitive outcome, even those confirmed to have MS. Longitudinal evaluations of children with monophasic ADS and MS are required to determine the possibility of late-emerging sequelae and their time course. (JINS, 2016, 22, 1050–1060)
Background: The muscular dystrophies are a heterogeneous group of genetic muscle diseases with variable distribution of weakness and mode of inheritance.Methods: We previously performed a systematic review of worldwide population-based studies on Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies; the current study focused on the epidemiology of other muscular dystrophies using Medline and EMBASE databases. Two reviewers independently reviewed all abstracts, full-text articles, and abstracted data from 1985 to 2011. Pooling of prevalence estimates was performed using random-effect models.Results: A total of 1104 abstracts and 167 full-text articles were reviewed. Thirty-one studies met all eligibility criteria and were included in the final analysis. The overall pooled prevalence of combined muscular dystrophies was 16.14 (confidence interval [CI], 11.21-23.23) per 100,000. The prevalence estimates per 100,000 were 8.26 (CI, 4.99-13.68) for myotonic dystrophy, 3.95 (CI, 2.89-5.40) for facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, 1.63 (CI, 0.94-2.81) for limb girdle muscular dystrophy, and 0.99 (CI, 0.62-1.57) for congenital muscular dystrophies.Conclusions: The studies differed widely in their approaches to case ascertainment, and substantial gaps remain in the global estimates of many other types of muscular dystrophies. Additional epidemiological studies using standardized diagnostic criteria as well as multiple sources of case ascertainment will help address the economic impact and health care burden of muscular dystrophies worldwide.
We carried out a population-based study of dystrophin mutations in patients followed by members of the Canadian Paediatric Neuromuscular Group (CPNG) over a ten-year period.
We aimed to describe the changes in diagnostic testing for dystrophinopathy and to determine the frequency of dystrophin mutations from 2000 to 2009.
De-identified data containing the clinical phenotypes, diagnostic methods, and mutational reports from dystrophinopathy patients followed by CPNG centres from January 2000 to December 2009 were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
773 patients had a confirmed diagnosis of dystrophinopathy based on genetic testing (97%), muscle biopsy (2%), or family history (1%). 573 (74%) had complete deletion/duplication analysis of all 79 exons or whole gene sequencing, resulting in 366 (64%) deletions, 64 (11%) duplications, and 143 (25%) point mutations. The percentage of patients who were diagnosed using currently accepted genetic testing methods varied across Canada, with a mean of 63% (SD 23). 246 (43%) mutations involved exons 45 to 53. The top ten deletions (n=147, 26%) were exons 45-47, 45-48, 45, 45-50, 45-55, 51, 45-49, 45-52, 49-50, and 46-47. 169 (29%) mutations involved exons 2 to 20. The most common duplications (n=29, 5.1%) were exons 2, 2-7, 2-17, 3-7, 8-11, 10, 10-11, and 12.
This is the most comprehensive report of dystrophin mutations in Canada. Consensus guidelines regarding the diagnostic approach to dystrophinopathy will hopefully reduce the geographical variation in mutation detection rates in the coming decade.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly used in adults and children. Studies on CAM in neurological disorders have focused on the adult population and its use among pediatric neurology patients has not been well characterized.
The purpose of this study was: 1) To characterize the prevalence of CAM in pediatric neurology patients; 2) To determine the perceived effectiveness of CAM in these children; 3) To compare the cost of CAM with conventional therapies; and 4) To describe caregiver or patient-related variables associated with the use of CAM.
This was a cross-sectional survey of patients and families attending the Alberta Children's Hospital neurology clinic between February and May 2004. Patients were considered eligible if they were between two and 18 years of age and had a known history of neurological disorders. Caregivers completed several self-administered questionnaires regarding their socio-demographic profile, their child's neurological illness, and their experience with CAM. Caregivers also rated their child's quality of life using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory.
One hundred and five of 228 (46%) families completed the survey. The mean age of the neurology patients was 9.8 ± 4.5 years. Forty-six (44%) out of 105 patients received one or more types of CAM, with the most common types being chiropractic manipulations (15%), dietary therapy (12%), herbal remedies (8%), homeopathy (8%), and prayer/faith healing (8%). Caregivers' sociodemographic variables or pediatric health-related quality of life were not significantly associated with the use of CAM. Fifty-nine percent of CAM users reported benefits, and only one patient experienced side effects. There was no significant difference in the total median cost of CAM compared to conventional therapies ($31.70 vs. $50.00 per month). Caregivers' personal experience or success stories from friends and media were common reasons for trying CAM.
The use of CAM was common among pediatric neurology patients. Over half of the families reported benefits with CAM, and side effects were perceived to be few. Physicians should initiate discussion on CAM during clinic visits so that the families and patients can make informed decisions about using CAM. Further studies should address the specific role of CAM in children with neurological disorders, and to determine the potential interactions between CAM and conventional therapies in these patients.
A previously well, nine-month-old, Canadian-born, Caucasian infant presented with one month history of cough, irritability, and poor weight gain. Her past medical history was significant for open-heart surgery at age four months, with repair of a ventricular septal defect, closure of an atrial septal defect, and ligation of patent ductus arteriosus. There were no operative complications. Her development was normal for age. She had received her routine immunizations.There was no known infectious diseases contact or exposure to farm animals.
Dr. Harvey Sarnat: A.Y. was a 10-year-old Mexican girl who presented with a 7-year history of progressive weakness. She was the full-term product of an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, weighing 2850 grams at birth. Early developmental milestones were achieved at the expected rate until age three, when frequent falling was noted. Progressive weakness of her legs ensued, and at age nine years, A.Y. lost the ability to walk beyond a few steps, and shortly thereafter she could not stand without support. She had no seizures, visual disturbance, dysphagia, or incontinence. Previously an excellent student, her academic performance in school had deteriorated over the past year. She was not on any medications. Family history was negative for any known neurological or neuromuscular diseases. A.Y. was an only child. Both parents were alive and well; there was no history of consanguinity.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common form of muscular dystrophy in childhood.
To assess the current care of paediatric DMD patients in Canada, a questionnaire was mailed to 17 physicians who were members of the Canadian paediatric neuromuscular group. Areas of enquiry included; 1) multidisciplinary team composition; 2) means of DMD diagnosis; 3) corticosteroid use; surveillance and management for: 4) orthopaedic, 5) respiratory and 6) cardiac complications and 7) health maintenance (nutrition & immunizations).
Completed surveys were returned by 14/17 (82%) of physicians. Twelve respondents followed DMD patients. All centres had multidisciplinary teams, including respirology (11/12), child neurology or physiatry (11), physiotherapy (9), occupational therapy (9) and orthopaedic surgery (7). Deflazacort 0.9mg/kg/d was used at all centres, which was continued after loss of independent ambulation (11), along with routine calcium and vitamin D supplementation (10). Night splints were prescribed at all centres. Routine surveillance studies included pulmonary function testing (11), sleep studies (10), EKG/echocardiogram (10), bone density (DEXA) scans (10), spine radiography (9), and dietician referral (4).
Paediatric DMD patients are receiving relatively consistent care in multidisciplinary clinics across Canada, in accordance with recommended guidelines for DMD.
Patient registries represent an important method of organizing “real world” patient information for clinical and research purposes. Registries can facilitate clinical trial planning and recruitment and are particularly useful in this regard for uncommon and rare diseases. Neuromuscular diseases (NMDs) are individually rare but in aggregate have a significant prevalence. In Canada, information on NMDs is lacking. Barriers to performing Canadian multicentre NMD research exist which can be overcome by a comprehensive and collaborative NMD registry.
We describe the objectives, design, feasibility and initial recruitment results for the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry (CNDR).
The CNDR is a clinic-based registry which launched nationally in June 2011, incorporates paediatric and adult neuromuscular clinics in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and, as of December 2012, has recruited 1161 patients from 12 provinces and territories. Complete medical datasets have been captured on 460 “index disease” patients. Another 618 “non-index” patients have been recruited with capture of physician-confirmed diagnosis and contact information. We have demonstrated the feasibility of blended clinic and central office-based recruitment. “Index disease” patients recruited at the time of writing include 253 with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, 161 with myotonic dystrophy, and 71 with ALS.
The CNDR is a new nationwide registry of patients with NMDs that represents an important advance in Canadian neuromuscular disease research capacity. It provides an innovative platform for organizing patient information to facilitate clinical research and to expedite translation of recent laboratory findings into human studies.