R S Howard

University College London, London, ENG, United Kingdom

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Publications (61)232.49 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Thymectomy is a frequently used treatment for myasthenia gravis (MG) and is virtually always indicated in MG patients who have a thymoma. However, the evidence for thymectomy in non-thymomatous MG remains less certain-no randomised controlled trials have been published to date, although one is currently underway. We reviewed the management and clinical outcome of patients with MG who underwent thymectomy over a 12 year period. Eighty-nine patients who underwent transsternal thymectomy were identified. A thymoma was identified on histology in 24 %, whereas 48, 9 and 19 % had hyperplastic, atrophic and normal thymic histology, respectively. One patient developed post operative myasthenic crisis but generally the procedure was well tolerated. Outcome was favourable for the majority of patients, with 34 % achieving complete stable remission (CSR) and an additional 33 % achieving pharmacological remission. Moreover, steroid requirements fell progressively during follow-up. Patients with a hyperplastic gland had a significantly greater chance of achieving CSR compared to other histological subtypes and the incidence of CSR increased with a longer duration of follow-up. Thymectomy for MG is generally safe and well tolerated and is associated with a sustained improvement of symptoms in the majority of patients.
    Journal of Neurology 03/2013; · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Acute severe exacerbations of myasthenia gravis (MG) are common in both early and late onset MG. We wished to examine the current management in the intensive care unit (ICU) of severe exacerbations of MG and to study the long-term prognosis of MG following discharge from the ICU. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients admitted to a specialist neuro-ICU with acute exacerbations of MG over a 12-year period. RESULTS: We identified 38 patients. Over 60% were over the age of 50 years, and MG was newly diagnosed in over 40%. Intubation was required in 63%, and over 90% of patients were treated with prednisolone and/or intravenous immunoglobulin. Four patients died in hospital. The remainder of patients were followed up for a mean of 4 years, and the majority were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms of MG at clinical review. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the significant morbidity and mortality associated with severe exacerbations of MG, specialized neurointensive care can result in a good long-term prognosis in both early- and late-onset MG.
    European Journal of Neurology 02/2013; · 4.16 Impact Factor
  • Clinical neurology and neurosurgery 11/2011; 114(4):399-401. · 1.30 Impact Factor
  • N. W. S. Davies, K. N. Ward, R. S. Howard
    Journal of The Neurological Sciences - J NEUROL SCI. 01/2009; 285.
  • N W S Davies, M K Sharief, R S Howard
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    ABSTRACT: Reduced level of consciousness is a common clinical finding in acutely sick patients. In the majority of cases a cause for the encephalopathy is readily identifiable,whilst in a minority the aetiology is more difficult to ascertain. Frequently the onset of encephalopathy is associated with, or follows, infection. The mechanisms through which infection leads to encephalopathy are diverse. They range from direct microbial invasion of the brain or its supporting structures, to remote, infection-triggered mechanisms such as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Most common however, is the encephalopathy caused through a remote effect of systemic sepsis-septic encephalopathy. This article discusses the clinical presentation and underlying pathogeneses of the acute encephalopathies associated with infection, aiming to aid both their recognition and treatment.
    Journal of Neurology 08/2006; 253(7):833-45. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of probabilistic tractography is to obtain a connectivity index along a white matter pathway that reflects fibre organization and is sensitive to pathological abnormalities contributing to disability. Here, we present the development of voxel-based connectivity measures along the tractography-derived corticospinal tract (CST). We investigated whether these connectivity measures are different in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and correlate with the rate of disease progression. We also investigated whether fractional anisotropy (FA), which reflects directional coherence of fibre tracts, is reduced in the CST of ALS patients and relates to disease progression rate. Thirteen patients with probable or definite ALS and 19 healthy subjects were studied. The probabilistic tractography algorithm segmented the bilateral CST, along which FA and connectivity values were obtained. To take into account the asymmetric distribution of connectivity values, two summary statistic measures that focused on voxels with higher connectivity values were selected and then used in the analysis, together with the mean connectivity and the mean FA. To complete the analysis, the same summary measures for FA were included. Differences in all these indices between patients with moderate or rapid disease progression rate and controls were investigated using linear regression, adjusted for age and white matter fraction. The association between FA or connectivity in the CST and the disease progression rate was assessed using linear regression. Patients with a rapid disease progression rate had significantly lower summary connectivity measures than controls in the left CST, but there was only a borderline statistical difference in mean connectivity. Patients with rapid progression had a significantly lower mean FA, and any other FA measure, in both CSTs than controls. When only patients were considered, strong associations between the rate of disease progression and all the connectivity measures in the left CST were found (P-values between P < 0.001 and P = 0.002, partial correlation coefficients between -0.90 and -0.82). However, there was no evidence of an association between disease progression rate and any of the FA measures in the bilateral CST. Our findings suggest that FA and connectivity provide complementary information, since FA is sensitive to the detection of all the group differences, whereas the summary connectivity measures correlate with disease progression rate. The development of such connectivity measures raises their potential as markers of disease progression in ALS, and provides guidance for their use in other neurological diseases.
    Brain 07/2006; 129(Pt 7):1859-71. · 10.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Affinity purified IgG from sera of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is claimed to enhance transmitter release, induce apoptotic death of cultured motoneurones, and elicit a distinctive cytopathology with raised Ca(2+) in mouse motoneurones. An alternative hypothesis attributes these events to serine proteases in ALS sera. To test this, motoneurones in BALB/c mice injected intraperitoneally with plasminogen affinity purified from sera of ALS patients and healthy controls were analysed using immunochemical and ultrastructural morphometric methods. The responses were validated in motoneurones of mice injected with commercially purified plasminogen, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), or plasmin. Motoneurones in non-injected mice had normal morphology and ultrastructure without evidence of electron-dense degeneration. Purified plasminogen from both ALS patients and healthy controls, evoked electron-dense motoneurone degeneration, as did commercially purified plasminogen and tPA. The common cytopathology comprised disruption and distension of Nissl body rough endoplasmic reticulum, cytoplasmic polyribosomal proliferation, and significant Ca(2+) enhancement in mitochondria. By contrast, using affinity purified serum immunoglobulins, ALS-IgG but not IgG from healthy or disease controls, elicited necrosis, with 30% of ALS-IgGs tested evoking electron-dense degeneration in 40% of motoneurones. The primary cytopathology was extensive swelling of Golgi endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, with enhancement of Ca(2+) in Golgi endoplasmic reticulum and presynaptic boutons. We conclude that serine proteases purified from sera of ALS patients elicits a distinctive cytopathology and pattern of Ca(2+) enhancement in motoneurones different from that found on passive transfer of affinity purified ALS-IgG.
    Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology 05/2006; 32(2):141-56. · 4.84 Impact Factor
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    Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 12/2005; 76(11):1607-8. · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Advances in management have led to increasing numbers of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) reaching adulthood. Older patients with DMD are necessarily severely disabled, and their management presents particular practical issues. To review the management of a late adolescent and adult DMD population, and to identify areas in which the present service provisions may be inadequate to their needs. Retrospective review. We studied 25 patients with DMD referred to an adult neuromuscular clinic over a 7-year period. Clinical details were obtained retrospectively, from case notes or direct observations. There were 24 males and one symptomatic female carrier. Nine patients died during the observation period. There was no significant correlation between age of wheelchair confinement and age of death. Sixteen patients received non-invasive positive pressure support. Twelve attended mainstream schools and 12, residential special schools. All the patients lived at home for some or all of the time, when their main carers were either one or both of the parents. The most striking difficulties were with the provision of practical aids, including appropriate hoists and belts, feeding and toileting aids, and the conversion of accommodation. Patients rarely wished to discuss the later stages of their disease, and death was often more precipitate than expected. Death usually occurred outside hospital and the final cause was often difficult to establish. Adult patients with DMD develop progressive impairment, due to respiratory, orthopaedic and general medical factors. However, the particular areas of difficulty in this study often reflected inadequate and poorly directed social and medical support, illustrating the need for improvements in the structure, co-ordination and breadth of rehabilitation services for adult patients with DMD.
    QJM: monthly journal of the Association of Physicians 11/2005; 98(10):729-36. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to detect viruses in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with neurological disease. However, data to assist its use or interpretation are limited. We investigated factors possibly influencing viral detection in CSF by PCR, which will also help clinicians interpret positive and negative results. CSF from patients with was tested for human herpesviruses types 1-6, JC virus, enteroviruses, and Toxoplasma gondii. The likelihood of central nervous system (CNS) infection was classified as likely, possible, or unlikely. PCR findings in these categories were compared using single variable and logistic regression analysis. Of 787 samples tested, 97 (12%) were PCR positive for one or more viruses. Of episodes likely to be CNS viral infections, 30% were PCR positive compared to 5% categorised as unlikely. The most frequent positive findings were Epstein Barr virus (EBV), enteroviruses, and herpes simplex virus (HSV). Enteroviruses and HSV were found predominantly in the likely CNS viral infection group, whereas EBV was found mainly in the unlikely group. Positive PCR results were more likely when there were 3-14 days between symptom onset and lumbar puncture, and when CSF white cell count was abnormal, although a normal CSF did not exclude a viral infection. The diagnostic yield of PCR can be maximised by using sensitive assays to detect a range of pathogens in appropriately timed CSF samples. PCR results, in particular EBV, should be interpreted cautiously when symptoms cannot readily be attributed to the virus detected.
    Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 02/2005; 76(1):82-7. · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The combination of both PCR and intrathecal antibody studies is recommended to confirm or refute the diagnosis of herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE). To investigate the pattern of use of laboratory tests in the diagnosis of suspected cases of HSE, and to determine the final diagnosis in cases proven not to be HSE. Structured audit. We reviewed the case-notes of all patients who, over a five-year time period, presented with suspected encephalitis; and/or were prescribed aciclovir. Clinical and laboratory criteria were used to categorize the likelihood of HSE. We identified 222 patients: 10 (5%) had definite HSE, 24 (10%) possible HSE, and 144 (65%) a definite alternative diagnosis. In 44 (20%), no final diagnosis was made, but the diagnosis of HSE was excluded. PCR was performed in 68 (31%), intrathecal antibody studies in 24 (11%), and brain biopsy in 17 (8%). A wide range of diseases mimicked HSE, but most common were inflammatory diseases and other infections of the central nervous system. Laboratory tests, particularly intrathecal antibody assays, are under-used in the diagnosis of HSE. Although early empirical treatment of suspected HSE is essential, confirmation or exclusion of the diagnosis is equally important to avoid overlooking alternative diagnoses. Identification of the aetiology of encephalitis is of particular importance, given the current concerns of emerging infections and bioterrorism.
    QJM: monthly journal of the Association of Physicians 07/2004; 97(6):325-30. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been reported that immunoglobulins (IgG) in sera of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) kill cultured motoneurones (MN), but whether they also cause MN degeneration in vivo is unclear. To test this, protein-A affinity purified and dialysed IgGs were prepared from sera of 44 ALS patients without paraproteinemias, 20 healthy controls and 15 disease controls. Control and ALS-IgGs were injected intraperitoneally into groups of mice for 5 consecutive days and examined at day 8. IgG was localised immunocytochemically and spinal MN were characterised histologically and ultrastructurally and by comparative counts of Ca(2+) containing organelles revealed with oxylate-pyroantimonate histochemistry. ELISA revealed no differences in IgG concentration between ALS patients and control subjects. Immunocytochemistry showed IgG was present in MN of mice injected with control or ALS-IgG, but densitometry showed immunostaining in MN was stronger in mice injected with ALS-IgG. Compared to MN of non-injected mice, control-IgG-treated mice showed near normal MN morphology and numbers of Ca(2+)-containing organelles. Disease control IgGs evoked negligible or minor morphological changes according to disease, but normal numbers of Ca(2+) containing organelles. Ultrastructurally, about 70% of ALS-derived IgGs induced a population of MN with electron lucent cytoplasm, distended Golgi, disrupted Nissl and mitochondria (i.e., necrosis). However 30% of ALS-IgGs additionally induced electron-dense degeneration in 40% of the MN. These MN exhibited shrinkage, condensed nuclear chromatin and ill-defined nuclear membranes and resembled preliminary stages of apoptosis. We conclude that passive transfer of ALS-derived, but not control IgGs, does result in MN degeneration in the recipient mice. This appears to be associated with abnormal calcium homeostasis, but the exact target of ALS-IgG remains conjectural, and the possibilities are discussed.
    Acta Neuropathologica 02/2004; 107(1):35-46. · 9.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A 27 year old woman developed a vesicular genital rash and cerebellar dysfunction with progressive neurological deterioration suggesting brain stem encephalitis. Respiratory support was required. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain on day 7 showed signal hyperintensity in the central medulla and ventral pons, typical of acute inflammation. The course was severe and relapse occurred. MRI on day 33 showed a haemorrhagic area in the medulla. Treatment with aciclovir/valaciclovir eventually led to gradual recovery. Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) DNA was detected in CSF on days 11 and 14. HSV-2 was also detected in vesicle fluid from the genital rash. Serum was initially negative for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies, but convalescent samples showed seroconversion to HSV-2, indicating primary infection. Intrathecal synthesis of oligoclonal IgG bands specific for HSV was identified in the CSF. It is important to differentiate HSV-2 from HSV-1, and primary from initial or reactivated infection, so that prolonged aciclovir treatment followed by prophylaxis is instituted to prevent the high likelihood of symptomatic relapse in primary HSV-2 infection.
    Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 10/2003; 74(9):1323-5. · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Histopathological studies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are of end stage disease. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides the opportunity to investigate indirectly corticospinal tract pathology of ALS in vivo. DTI was used to study the water diffusion characteristics of the corticospinal tracts in 21 patients with ALS and 14 normal controls. The authors measured the fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) along the pyramidal tracts from the internal capsules down to the pyramids. A mixed model regression analysis was used to compare FA and MD between the ALS and control groups. FA showed a downward linear trend from the cerebral peduncles to the pyramids and was lower in the ALS group than controls at multiple levels of the corticospinal tract. At the internal capsules, FA was higher on the right. MD showed an upward trend, progressing caudally from the internal capsules to the pyramids. MD was higher at the level of the internal capsule in the ALS group, but caudally this difference was not maintained. No correlations were found between clinical markers of disability and water diffusion indices. These findings provide insights into the pathological processes of ALS. Differences in diffusion characteristics at different anatomical levels may relate to underlying tract architecture or the distribution of pathological damage in ALS. Further development may permit monitoring of progression and treatment of disease.
    Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 10/2003; 74(9):1250-7. · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    Journal of Sleep Research 04/2003; 12(1):83-4. · 3.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery that hypocretins are involved in narcolepsy, a disorder associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, and unusually rapid transitions to rapid eye movement sleep, opens a new field of investigation in the area of disorders of sleep and activation. Hypocretin-1 (hcrt-1) and hypocretin-2 (hcrt-2) (also called orexin-A and orexin-B) are newly discovered neuropeptides processed from a common precursor. Hypocretin containing cells are located exclusively in the lateral hypothalamus, with widespread projections within the central nervous system. The role of the hypocretin system in other disorders causing excessive daytime sleepiness is more uncertain. This study reports the findings of a prospective study measuring cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of hypocretin-1 and hypocretin-2 in HLA DQB1*0602 positive narcolepsy with cataplexy, monosymptomatic narcolepsy, and primary hypersomnia. The results confirmed the previous observations, that hcrt-1 is deficient in narcolepsy and for the first time report very low levels of hcrt-1 in primary hypersomnia. It is also reported for the first time that there is a generalised defect in hcrt-2 transmission in all three of these clinical entities compared with controls.
    Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 02/2003; 74(1):127-30. · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    R S Howard, R W Orrell
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    ABSTRACT: Motor neurone disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder leading to severe disability and death. It is clinically characterised by mixed upper and lower motor neurone involvement affecting bulbar, limb, and respiratory musculature. Recent guidelines have established diagnostic criteria and defined management of the condition. In a proportion of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis there is a mutation in the gene encoding the enzyme copper/zinc superoxide dismutase 1; this has allowed mutation screening and generated considerable laboratory based research. The diagnosis must be given with care and consideration and close follow up is essential. Management involves a multidisciplinary team based in the hospital and the community. Riluzole is the only drug shown to have a disease modifying effect and has been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. The essence of care is good symptomatic management, including nutritional support with percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy and ventilatory care with non-invasive ventilation. Palliative care should be introduced before the terminal stages after careful discussion with the patient and carers. Knowledge of this condition has grown dramatically recently with a parallel improvement in treatment and ability to deal with the most troublesome problems.
    Postgraduate Medical Journal 01/2003; 78(926):736-41. · 1.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To review the outcome of acute ventilatory support in patients presenting acutely with respiratory failure, either with an established diagnosis of motor neurone disease (MND) or with a clinical event where the diagnosis of MND has not yet been established. Outcome was reviewed in 24 patients with respiratory failure due to MND who received endotracheal intubation and intermittent positive pressure ventilation either at presentation or as a result of the unexpected development of respiratory failure. Patients presenting to local hospitals with acute respiratory insufficiency and requiring tracheal intubation, ventilatory support, and admission to an intensive therapy unit (ITU) before transfer to a regional respiratory care unit were selected. Clinical features of presentation, management, and outcome were studied. 24 patients with MND were identified, all being intubated and ventilated acutely within hours of presentation. 17 patients (71%) were admitted in respiratory failure before the diagnosis of MND had been made; the remaining seven patients (29%) were already known to have MND but deteriorated rapidly such that intubation and ventilation were initiated acutely. Seven patients (29%) died on ITU (between seven and 54 days after admission). 17 patients (71%) were discharged from ITU. 16 patients (67%) received long term respiratory support and one patient required no respiratory support following tracheal extubation. The daily duration of support that was required increased gradually with time. When a patient with MND is ventilated acutely, with or without an established diagnosis, independence from the ventilator is rarely achieved. Almost all of these patients need long term ventilatory support and the degree of respiratory support increases with time as the disease progresses. The aim of management should be weaning the patient to the minimum support compatible with symptomatic relief and comfort. Respiratory failure should be anticipated in patients with MND when the diagnosis has been established.
    Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 07/2002; 72(6):752-6. · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 06/2002; 95(5):227-30. · 1.72 Impact Factor
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    Postgraduate Medical Journal 12/2001; 77(913):700-2. · 1.61 Impact Factor