E Zecca

Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano, Milano, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (43)143.11 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction:Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posterior hypothalamus (pHyp) has been reported as an effective treatment for primary, drug-refractory and chronic cluster headache (CCH). We here describe the use of such a procedure for the treatment of secondary CCH due to a neoplasm affecting the soft tissues of the right hemiface.Methods:A 27-year-old man affected by infiltrating angiomyolipoma of the right hemiface who subsequently developed drug refractory homolateral CCH underwent DBS of the right pHyp region at the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Neurologico Carlo Besta.Results:After surgery, the patient presented a significant reduction in frequency of pain bouts. However, because of a subsequent infection, the entire system was removed. After re-implantation of the system, successful outcome was observed at 2 years follow-up.Discussion:This brief report shows the feasibility of pHyp DBS in secondary drug-refractory CCH syndromes; future reports are needed in order to confirm our positive result.
    Cephalalgia 11/2012; · 3.49 Impact Factor
  • Handbook of Clinical Neurology 01/2012; 104:391-415.
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to describe the use of palliative sedation (PS) its indications and outcomes in patients followed up till death by an inpatient palliative care consult team (PCCT) at a tertiary cancer center. All patients referred for 5 years to the PCCT and followed up till death were eligible for the study. Both PCCT recordings and hospital charts were reviewed and a codified assessment was performed. Over a total of 2,033 consecutive consults, 129 patients died during admission and were eligible. Eighty-three had the indication to PS, 4% of all consults (95% confidence interval [95%CI], 3% to 5%) and 64% of eligible patients (95%CI, 56% to 73%). PS was more frequently indicated in males and in patients with recurrent dyspnea and recurrent agitation, while it was less frequently indicated in older people and in patients with cerebral metastases and recurrent drowsiness. The most frequent indications to PS were dyspnea (37%) and delirium (31%) alone or combined with other symptoms. PS was successfully achieved in 69 patients; the drugs most frequently used for PS were midazolam (46%), haloperidol (35%), and chlorpromazine (32%) and opioid dose escalation was higher in sedated patients (P < 0.01). PS is an important intervention in the management of terminal disease by a consulting palliative care team. Improved collaboration and communication between the hospital staff and the PCCT should be offered to meet patients' needs when PS is required.
    Supportive Care in Cancer 07/2011; 20(6):1299-307. · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Numerical rating scales (NRS), and verbal rating scales (VRS) showed to be reliable and valid tools for subjective cancer pain measurement, but no one of them consistently proved to be superior to the other. Aim of the present study is to compare NRS and VRS performance in assessing breakthrough or episodic pain (BP-EP) exacerbations. In a cross sectional multicentre study carried out on a sample of 240 advanced cancer patients with pain, background pain and BP-EP intensity in the last 24 hours were measured using both a 6-point VRS and a 0-10 NRS. In order to evaluate the reproducibility of the two scales, a subsample of 60 patients was randomly selected and the questionnaire was administered for a second time three to four hours later. The proportion of "inconsistent" (background pain intensity higher than or equal to peak pain intensity) evaluations was calculated to compare the two scales capability in discriminating between background and peak pain intensity and Cohen's K was calculated to compare their reproducibility. NRS revealed higher discriminatory capability than VRS in distinguishing between background and peak pain intensity with a lower proportion of patients giving inconsistent evaluations (14% vs. 25%). NRS also showed higher reproducibility when measuring pain exacerbations (Cohen's K of 0.86 for NRS vs. 0.53 for VRS) while the reproducibility of the two scales in evaluating background pain was similar (Cohen's K of 0.80 vs. 0.77). Our results suggest that, in the measurement of cancer pain exacerbations, patients use NRS more appropriately than VRS and as such NRS should be preferred to VRS in this patient's population.
    Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 01/2010; 8:42. · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aim of this study was to validate the use of subjective average pain assessment over an 8-h time period to evaluate cancer pain intensity. A sample of 95 consecutive cancer inpatients were asked to score on 0-10 numerical scales the intensity of their pain at hourly intervals, and then, at the 8th hour, to rate their average pain intensity over the last 8h. Agreement between the average of the 8 hourly measures (8hA) and the single patient-rated average (PA8h) was examined with the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and the absolute difference (AD) between the two measurements. Associations between AD, gender, age older than 70, somatic pain, visceral pain, neuropathic pain, pain on movement and the presence of pain exacerbations during the 8-h period, were also examined. Average pain intensity scores were very similar with the two measurement schedules: 3.4 for 8hA and 3.7 for PA8h, with a median AD of 0.44 points. Only six patients (6.3%) showed ADs higher than 2 points. Also the ICC (0.85) showed a substantial agreement between the two schedules. Among the examined variables, gender, age over 70years and presence of pain exacerbations showed a significant association with the agreement level. Overall, our results support the validity of a subjective average pain measurement over 8-h period in cancer patients.
    European journal of pain (London, England) 09/2009; 14(4):441-5. · 3.37 Impact Factor
  • Palliative Medicine 07/2008; 22(4):392-3. · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this review was to evaluate the methods of pain measurement in controlled clinical trials in oncology published between 1999 and 2002. An electronic literature search strategy was used according to established criteria applied to the Medline database and PubMed search engine. Articles were selected to include only studies that had chronic cancer pain as the primary or secondary objective of a controlled clinical trial. A specific evaluation scheme was used to examine how pain measurement methods were chosen and implemented in the study procedures. The search strategy identified 613 articles, and 68 were selected for evaluation. Most articles (69%) chose unidimensional pain measurement tools, such as visual analogue scales, numerical rating scales and verbal rating scales, whereas others used questionnaires. The implementation of the pain assessment method was problematic in many studies, especially as far as time frame of pain assessment (70%), administration modalities (46%), and use of non-validated measurement methods (10%). Design of study and data analysis were often unclear about the definition of pain outcome measure (40%), patient compliance with pain assessment (98%), and impact of missing data (56%). Statistical techniques were seldom appropriate to the type of data collected and often inadequate to describe the pain variable under study. It is clear from this review that most authors were aware of the need of valid pain measurement tools to be used in clinical trials. However, too often these tools were not appropriately used in the trial, or at least their use was not described with sufficient accuracy in the trial methods.
    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 06/2005; 29(5):507-19. · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the analgesic effect of the addition of gabapentin to opioids in the management of neuropathic cancer pain. One hundred twenty-one consecutive patients with neuropathic pain due to cancer, partially controlled with systemic opioids, participated in a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-design, 10-day trial from August 1999 to May 2002. Gabapentin was titrated from 600 mg/d to 1,800 mg/d in addition to stable opioid dose. Extra opioid doses were available as needed. Zero to 10 numerical scale was used to rate average daily pain. The average pain score over the whole follow-up period was used as main outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures were: intensity of burning pain, shooting/lancinating pain, dysesthesias (also scored on 0 to 10 numerical scale), number of daily episodes of lancinating pain, presence of allodynia, and daily extra doses of opioid analgesics. Overall, 79 patients received gabapentin and 58 (73%) completed the study; 41 patients received placebo and 31 (76%) completed the study. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) on the intent-to-treat population showed a significant difference of average pain intensity between gabapentin (pain score, 4.6) and placebo group (pain score, 5.4; P =.0250). Among secondary outcome measures, dysesthesia score showed a statistically significant difference (P =.0077; ANCOVA on modified intent-to-treat population = 115 patients with at least 3 days of pain assessments). Reasons for withdrawing patients from the trial were adverse events in six patients (7.6%) receiving gabapentin and in three patients receiving placebo (7.3%). Gabapentin is effective in improving analgesia in patients with neuropathic cancer pain already treated with opioids.
    Journal of Clinical Oncology 08/2004; 22(14):2909-17. · 18.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Accurate pain assessment is considered essential for effective management of cancer pain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the compliance of hospitalized patients with chronic cancer pain, referred to an inpatient palliative care consultation service, with self-assessment of pain intensity by means of a daily pain form. The form was distributed daily by the pain consult nurse and required three daily pain intensity measurements on 0 to 10 numerical scales, separately for pain at rest and pain on movement. Of 174 consecutive patients, 106 (61%) participated in the study and were followed up for a median of 10.6 days (range 1-32 days). Compliance was defined as the number of assessment forms completed over the number of evaluation days available for each patient. Mean compliance was 58%. The main reasons for not completing the form were related to subjective psychological variables (44%), physical distress (26%), and absence of pain (16%). Lack of understanding of the method was reported as the main reason for non-compliance by only 1% of patients.
    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 06/2004; 27(5):417-24. · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Breakthrough pain (BKP) is a transitory flare of pain that occurs on a background of relatively well controlled baseline pain. Previous surveys have found that BKP is highly prevalent among patients with cancer pain and predicts more severe pain, pain-related distress and functional impairment, and relatively poor quality of life. An international group of investigators assembled by a task force of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) evaluated the prevalence and characteristics of BKP as part of a prospective, cross-sectional survey of cancer pain. Fifty-eight clinicians in 24 countries evaluated a total of 1095 patients with cancer pain using patient-rated items from the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and observer-rated measures. The observer-rated information included demographic and tumor-related data, the occurrence of BKP, and responses on checklists of pain syndromes and pathophysiologies. The clinicians reported BKP in 64.8% of patients. Physicians from English-speaking countries were significantly more likely to report BKP than other physicians. BKP was associated with higher pain scores and functional interference on the BPI. Multivariate analysis showed an independent association of BKP with the presence of more than one pain, a vertebral pain syndrome, pain due to plexopathy, and English-speaking country. These data confirm the high prevalence of BKP, its association with more severe pain and functional impairment, and its relationship to specific cancer pain syndromes. Further studies are needed to characterize subtypes of BKP. The uneven distribution of BKP reporting across pain specialists from different countries suggests that more standardized methods for diagnosing BKP are needed.
    Palliative Medicine 05/2004; 18(3):177-83. · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A number of controlled studies have recently demonstrated the role of disodium pamidronate in the prevention of skeletal complications in patients with metastatic bone disease due to breast cancer and multiple myeloma. They have also shown that it relieves pain and is well tolerated. The aim of this open prospective study was to evaluate the acceptability of a new schedule of pamidronate infusion and to assess pain, analgesic consumption and the Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) in patients with metastatic bone pain treated with pamidronate in association or not with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormone therapy. Patients with different types of cancer and at least one painful bone metastasis were treated with two cycles of 60 mg intravenous (iv) pamidronate weekly for three consecutive doses, with a 3-week interval between the two cycles (six infusions over 7 weeks), followed by one infusion every 3 weeks for a total of 24 infusions. Two hundred patients were enrolled in the study, of whom 94 received at least the first six infusions; 25 patients received all 24 infusions. Pamidronate was well tolerated in the majority of the patients both during the first six infusions and during the whole study period. In the patients under study, pain intensity decreased compared with T0 after the first two infusions (second week of treatment). The mean equivalent daily dose of oral morphine required ranged from 21.5 to 41.5 mg/day and was low and stable during the study. For the patients who remained in the study, the KPS remained around 70 during the whole treatment period and intrasubject analysis showed a substantial stability of the KPS within each subject. A first fracture occurred within 321 days in 25% of the whole population under study. Pamidronate represents a further valid therapy to add to an already consolidated list of therapies such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and orthopaedic intervention in the pain management of patients with bone metastases. Future studies are necessary to evaluate the role of pamidronate and the appropriate schedule in patients with advanced or terminal cancer who are no longer being treated with oncological therapies.
    Palliative Medicine 08/2001; 15(4):297-307. · 2.61 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 03/2001; 21(2):89-91. · 2.60 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 03/2001; 21(2):93-4. · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In advanced cancer patients with inoperable bowel obstruction, the administration of antisecretive and antiemetic drugs has proved to be effective in controlling gastrointestinal symptoms caused by bowel obstruction. However, controlled studies concerning the most effective antisecretive drug are lacking. The aim of this randomized controlled study was to determine whether octreotide or hyoscine butylbromide was the more effective antisecretive drug for use in states of inoperable bowel obstruction. Eighteen patients with inoperable bowel obstruction randomly received octreotide 0.3 mg daily (n = 9) or hyoscine butylbromide (HB) 60 mg daily (n = 9) s.c. The following parameters were measured: episodes of vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, continuous and colicky pain, using a Likert scale corresponding to a numerical value: (none 0, slight 1, moderate 2, severe 3) recorded before starting the treatment (T0) and 24 h (T1), 48 h (T2) and 72 h after (T3), and the mean daily amounts of fluids administered i.v. or s.c. during the period of study. Three patients dropped out of the study because data were incomplete. Octreotide treatment induced a significantly rapid reduction in the number of daily episodes of vomiting and intensity of nausea compared with HB treatment at the different time intervals examined. No relevant changes were found in dry mouth, drowsiness and colicky pain. Lower levels of hydration were associated with nausea regardless of the treatment. At the doses used in this study, octreotide was more effective than HB in controlling gastrointestinal symptoms of bowel obstruction. Further studies are necessary to understand the role of hydration more clearly in such a clinical situation.
    Supportive Care Cancer 06/2000; 8(3):188-91. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bowel obstruction may be an inoperable complication in patients with end-stage cancer. Scopolamine butylbromide (SB) and octreotide (OCT) have been successfully used with the aim of reducing gastrointestinal (GI) secretions to avoid placement of a nasogastric tube (NGT); however, there have been no comparative studies concerning the efficacy of these drugs. Furthermore, there is little information about the role played by parenteral hydration in symptom control of these patients. In a prospective trial that involved all 17 inoperable bowel-obstructed patients presenting to our services with a decompressive NGT, patients were randomized to OCT 0.3 mg/day or SB 60 mg/day for 3 days through a continuous subcutaneous infusion. Clinical data, survival time, and the time interval from the first diagnosis of cancer to the onset of inoperable bowel obstruction were noted. The intensity of pain, nausea, dry mouth, thirst, dyspnea, feeling of abdominal distension, and drowsiness were assessed by means of a verbal scale before starting treatment with the drugs under study (T0) and then daily for 3 days (T1, T2, T3). Moreover, daily information was collected regarding the quantity of GI secretions through the NGT, the oral intake of fluids, the quantity of parenteral hydration, and the analgesic therapy used. The NGT could be removed in all 10 home care and in 3 hospitalized patients without changing the dosage of the drugs. OCT significantly reduced the amount of GI secretions at T2 (P = 0.016) and T3 (P = 0.020). Compared to the home care patients, the hospitalized patients received significantly more parenteral hydration (P = 0.0005) and drank more fluids (P = 0.025). There was no difference in the daily thirst and dry mouth intensity in relation to the amount of parenteral hydration or the treatment provided (OCT or SB). Independent of antisecretory treatment, the patients receiving less parenteral hydration presented significantly more nausea (T0 P = 0.002; T1 P = 0.001; T2 P = 0.003; T3 P = 0.001) and drowsiness at T3 (P 0.05). Pain relief was obtained in all 17 patients and only two patients required an increase in the morphine dose at T1. All patients with inoperable malignant bowel obstruction should undergo treatment with antisecretory drugs so as to evaluate the possibility of removing the NGT. When a more rapid reduction in GI secretions is desired, OCT should be considered as the first choice drug. Parenteral hydration over 500 ml/day may reduce nausea and drowsiness.
    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management - J PAIN SYMPTOM MANAGE. 01/2000; 19(1):23-34.
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    ABSTRACT: Bowel obstruction may be an inoperable complication in patients with end-stage cancer. Scopolamine butylbromide (SB) and octreotide (OCT) have been successfully used with the aim of reducing gastrointestinal (GI) secretions to avoid placement of a nasogastric tube (NGT); however, there have been no comparative studies concerning the efficacy of these drugs. Furthermore, there is little information about the role played by parenteral hydration in symptom control of these patients. In a prospective trial that involved all 17 inoperable bowel-obstructed patients presenting to our services with a decompressive NGT, patients were randomized to OCT 0.3 mg/day or SB 60 mg/day for 3 days through a continuous subcutaneous infusion. Clinical data, survival time, and the time interval from the first diagnosis of cancer to the onset of inoperable bowel obstruction were noted. The intensity of pain, nausea, dry mouth, thirst, dyspnea, feeling of abdominal distension, and drowsiness were assessed by means of a verbal scale before starting treatment with the drugs under study (T0) and then daily for 3 days (T1, T2, T3). Moreover, daily information was collected regarding the quantity of GI secretions through the NGT, the oral intake of fluids, the quantity of parenteral hydration, and the analgesic therapy used. The NGT could be removed in all 10 home care and in 3 hospitalized patients without changing the dosage of the drugs. OCT significantly reduced the amount of GI secretions at T2 (P = 0.016) and T3 (P = 0.020). Compared to the home care patients, the hospitalized patients received significantly more parenteral hydration (P = 0.0005) and drank more fluids (P = 0.025). There was no difference in the daily thirst and dry mouth intensity in relation to the amount of parenteral hydration or the treatment provided (OCT or SB). Independent of antisecretory treatment, the patients receiving less parenteral hydration presented significantly more nausea (T0 P = 0.002; T1 P = 0.001; T2 P = 0.003; T3 P = 0.001) and drowsiness at T3 (P < 0.5). Pain relief was obtained in all 17 patients and only two patients required an increase in morphine dose at T1. All patients with inoperable malignant bowel obstruction should undergo treatment with antisecretory drugs so as to evaluate the possibility of removing the NGT. When a more rapid reduction in GI secretions is desired, OCT should be considered as the first choice drug. Parenteral hydration over 500 ml/day may reduce nausea and drowsiness.
    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 01/2000; 19(1):23-34. · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 01/2000; 19(1). · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gabapentin was administered as an "add on" therapy to 22 patients with neuropathic cancer pain only partially responsive to opioid therapy. Global pain, burning pain, shooting pain episodes, and allodynia were assessed separately. Gabapentin was given for at least a week and efficacy was assessed after 7 to 14 days of therapy. Global pain score decreased from a mean (+/- SD) of 6.4 (+/- 1.5) to 3.2 (+/- 1.3) (95% confidence interval of the baseline minus final score differences [95% CI] = 1.0-2.4). Burning pain intensity decreased from a mean (+/- SD) of 5.1 (+/- 3.6) to 2.0 (+/- 2.3) (95% CI = 1.5-3.8), and episodes of shooting pain decreased in frequency from 7.2 (+/- 3.7) to 2.2 (+/- 2.2) daily episodes (95% CI = 1.8-4.3). Allodynia was found in 9 patients and disappeared in 7 during gabapentin administration. Twenty patients judged the new drug efficacious in relieving their symptoms. The potential role of gabapentin as an adjuvant to opioid analgesia in cancer pain is discussed.
    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 07/1999; 17(6):441-5. · 2.60 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 05/1999; 17(4):227-9. · 2.60 Impact Factor