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Pierluigi Longatti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Elisabetta Marton, Francesco Sala, and Alberto Feletti

OBJECTIVE

Although evidence and descriptions of the central canal (CC) along the medulla oblongata and the spinal cord have been provided by several anatomical and radiological studies, a clear picture and assessment of the opening of the CC, or apertura canalis centralis (ACC), into the fourth ventricle is lacking, due to its submillimetric size and hidden position in the calamus scriptorius.

METHODS

The authors reviewed all of their cases in which patients underwent ventricular transaqueductal flexible endoscopic procedures and selected 44 cases in which an inspection of the region of the calamus scriptorius had been performed and was suitable for study inclusion. Patients were divided into different groups, based on the presence or absence of a chronic pathological process involving the fourth ventricle. In each case, the visual appearance of the opening of the CC of the ACC was classified as no evidence (A0), indirect evidence (A1), or clear evidence (A2). Morphometric measurements were inferred from surrounding structures and the size of surgical tools visible in the field.

RESULTS

The opening of the CC could be clearly observed in all cases (A1 4.5%, A2 95.5%). In normal cases, a lanceolate shape along the median sulcus was most frequently found, with an average size of 600 × 250 µm that became rounded and smaller in size in cases of hydrocephalus. The distance between the caudal margin of the ACC and the obex was about 1.8 mm in normal cases, 2.1 mm in cases of obstructive hydrocephalus, and 1 mm in cases of normal pressure hydrocephalus. The two wings of the area postrema, variable in size and shape, were sited just caudal to the opening.

CONCLUSIONS

A flexible scope inserted through the cerebral aqueduct can approach the hidden calamus scriptorius like a pen fits into an inkpot. With this privileged viewpoint, the authors provide for the first time, to their knowledge, a clear and novel vision of the opening of the CC in the fourth ventricle, along with the precise location of this tiny structure compared to other anatomical landmarks in the inferior triangle.

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Alberto Feletti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Vincenzo Lavecchia, Rafael Boscolo-Berto, Elisabetta Marton, Veronica Macchi, Raffaele De Caro, Pierluigi Longatti, Andrea Porzionato, and Giacomo Pavesi

OBJECTIVE

Despite the technological advancements of neurosurgery, the posterior part of the third ventricle has always been the “dark side” of the ventricle. However, flexible endoscopy offers the opportunity for a direct, in vivo inspection and detailed description of the posterior third ventricle in physiological and pathological conditions. The purposes of this study were to describe the posterior wall of the third ventricle, detailing its normal anatomy and surgical landmarks, and to assess the effect of chronic hydrocephalus on the anatomy of this hidden region.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the video recordings of 59 in vivo endoscopic explorations of the posterior third ventricle to describe every identifiable anatomical landmark. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on the absence or presence of a chronic dilation of the third ventricle. The first group provided the basis for the description of normal anatomy.

RESULTS

The following anatomical structures were identified in all cases: adytum of the cerebral aqueduct, posterior commissure, pineal recess, habenular commissure, and suprapineal recess. Comparing the 2 groups of patients, the authors were able to detect significant variations in the shape of the adytum of the cerebral aqueduct and in the thickness of the habenular and posterior commissures. Exploration with sodium fluorescein excluded the presence of any fluorescent area in the posterior third ventricle, other than the subependymal vascular network.

CONCLUSIONS

The use of a flexible scope allows the complete inspection of the posterior third ventricle. The anatomical variations caused by chronic hydrocephalus might be clinically relevant, in light of the commissure functions.

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Alberto Feletti and Pierluigi Longatti

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Pierluigi Longatti, Andrea Porzionato, Luca Basaldella, Alessandro Fiorindi, Pietro De Caro, and Alberto Feletti

OBJECT

The human area postrema (AP) is a circumventricular organ that has only been described in cadaveric specimens and animals. Because of its position in the calamus scriptorius and the absence of surface markers on the floor of the fourth ventricle, the AP cannot be clearly localized during surgical procedures.

METHODS

The authors intravenously administered 500 mg fluorescein sodium to 25 patients during neuroendoscopic procedures; in 12 of these patients they explored the fourth ventricle. A flexible endoscope equipped with dual observation modes for both white light and fluorescence was used. The intraoperative fluorescent images were reviewed and compared with anatomical specimens and 3D reconstructions.

RESULTS

Because the blood-brain barrier does not cover the AP, it was visualized in all cases after fluorescein sodium injection. The AP is seen as 2 coupled leaves on the floor of the fourth ventricle, diverging from the canalis centralis medullaris upward. Although the leaves normally appear short and thick, there can be different morphological patterns. Exploration using the endoscope's fluorescent mode allowed precise localization of the AP in all cases.

CONCLUSIONS

Fluorescence-enhanced inspection of the fourth ventricle accurately identifies the position of the AP, which is an important landmark during surgical procedures on the brainstem. A better understanding of the AP can also be valuable for neurologists, considering its functional role in the regulation of homeostasis, emesis, and cardiovascular and electrolyte balance. Despite the limited number of cases in this report, evidence indicates that the normal anatomical appearance of the AP is that of 2 short and thick leaves that are joined at the midline. However, there can be great variability in terms of the structure's shape and size.

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Alberto Feletti, Giannantonio Zanata Santi, Francesco Sammartino, Marzio Bevilacqua, Piero Cisotto, and Pierluigi Longatti

Object

Peripheral nerve field stimulation has been successfully used for many neuropathic syndromes. However, it has been reported as a treatment for trigeminal neuropathic pain or persistent idiopathic facial pain only in the recent years.

Methods

The authors present a review of the literature and their own series of 6 patients who were treated with peripheral nerve stimulation for facial neuropathic pain, reporting excellent pain relief and subsequent better social relations and quality of life.

Results

On average, pain scores in these patients decreased from 10 to 2.7 on the visual analog scale during a 17-month follow-up (range 0–32 months). The authors also observed the ability to decrease trigeminal pain with occipital nerve stimulation, clinically confirming the previously reported existence of a close anatomical connection between the trigeminal and occipital nerves (trigeminocervical nucleus).

Conclusions

Peripheral nerve field stimulation of the trigeminal and occipital nerves is a safe and effective treatment for trigeminal neuropathic pain and persistent idiopathic facial pain, when patients are strictly selected and electrodes are correctly placed under the hyperalgesia strip at the periphery of the allodynia region.

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Luca Basaldella, Elisabetta Marton, Alessandro Fiorindi, Bruno Scarpa, Hadi Badreddine, and Pierluigi Longatti

Object

Massive intraventricular hemorrhages (IVHs) require aggressive and rapid management to decrease intracranial hypertension, because the amount of intraventricular blood is a strong negative prognostic predictor on outcome. Neuroendoscopy may offer some advantages over more traditional surgical approaches on outcome and may decrease the number of shunt procedures that need to be performed.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the clinical and radiological data in 96 patients treated for massive IVH who were admitted between January 1996 and June 2008 to the neurosurgery unit after undergoing emergency CT scanning. Forty-eight patients (Group A) were treated with endoscopic aspiration surgery using a flexible endoscope with a “freehand” technique. A historical group of 48 patients (Group B) treated using external ventricular drain (EVD) placement alone was used as a comparison. The authors compared the radiological results with the clinical outcomes at 1 year according to the modified Rankin Scale and the need for internal CSF shunt treatment in the 2 groups.

Results

Endoscopic aspiration did not significantly affect the outcome at 1 year as determined using the modified Rankin Scale. Patients who underwent endoscopy had an EVD in place for 0.18 days fewer than patients treated with an EVD alone. Patients undergoing external ventricular drainage alone had a 5 times greater chance of requiring a shunting procedure than those treated using neuroendoscopy and external ventricular drainage. Neuroendoscopy plus external drainage reduces shunting rates by 34% when compared with external drainage alone.

Conclusions

The reduction in internal shunt surgery encourages the adoption of neuroendoscopic aspiration of severe IVH as a therapeutic tool to decrease shunt dependency.

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Piero Andrea Oppido, Alessandro Fiorindi, Lucia Benvenuti, Fabio Cattani, Saverio Cipri, Michelangelo Gangemi, Umberto Godano, Pierluigi Longatti, Carmelo Mascari, Enzo Morace, and Luigino Tosatto

Object

Although neuroendoscopic biopsy is routinely performed, the safety and validity of this procedure has been studied only in small numbers of patients in single-center reports. The Section of Neuroendoscopy of the Italian Neurosurgical Society invited some of its members to review their own experience, gathering a sufficient number of cases for a wide analysis.

Methods

Retrospective data were collected by 7 centers routinely performing neuroendoscopic biopsies over a period of 10 years. Sixty patients with newly diagnosed intraventricular and paraventricular tumors were included. No patient harboring a colloid cyst was included. Data regarding clinical presentation, neuroimaging findings, operative techniques, pathological diagnosis, postoperative complications, and subsequent therapy were analyzed.

Results

In all patients, a neuroendoscopic tumor biopsy was performed. In 38 patients (64%), obstructive hydrocephalus was present. In addition to the tumor biopsy, 32 patients (53%) underwent endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and 7 (12%) underwent septum pellucidotomy. Only 2 patients required a ventriculoperitoneal shunt shortly after the endoscopy procedure because ETV was not feasible. The major complication due to the endoscopy procedure was ventricular hemorrhage noted on the postoperative images in 8 cases (13%). Only 2 patients were symptomatic and required medical therapy. Infection occurred in only 1 case, and the other complications were all reversible. In no case did clinically significant sequelae affect the patient's outcome. Tumor types ranged across the spectrum and included glioma (low- and high-grade [27%]), pure germinoma (15%), pineal parenchymal tumor (12%), primary neuroectodermal tumor (4%), lymphoma (9%), metastasis (4%), craniopharyngioma (6%), and other tumor types (13%). In 10% of patients, the pathological findings were inconclusive. According to diagnosis, specific therapy was performed in 35% of patients: 17% underwent microsurgical removal, and 18% underwent chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Conclusions

This is one of the largest series confirming the safety and validity of the neuroendoscopic biopsy procedure. Complications were relatively low (about 13%), and they were all reversible. Neuroendoscopic biopsy provided meaningful pathological data in 90% of patients, making subsequent tumor therapy feasible. Cerebrospinal fluid pathways can be restored by ETV or septum pellucidotomy (65%) to control intracranial hypertension. In light of the results obtained, a neuroendoscopic biopsy should be considered a possible alternative to the stereotactic biopsy in the diagnosis and treatment of ventricular or paraventricular tumors. Furthermore, it could be the only surgical procedure necessary for the treatment of selected tumors.

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Alberto Feletti, Elisabetta Marton, Grazia Marina Mazzucco, Shanna Fang, and Pierluigi Longatti

Since children may not be able to complain of progressive reduction in optic acuity, visual assessment in infancy may present practical difficulties. The authors report a case of craniopharyngioma, which led a young child to early blindness before the correct diagnosis could be made. Similar to other reported cases, the authors found that surgery did not substantially modify the preoperative visual deficit. They conclude that minimal improvement in visual acuity can be expected despite successful microsurgical removal of the tumor.

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Luca Basaldella, Enrico Orvieto, Angelo Paolo Dei Tos, Mila Della Barbera, Marialuisa Valente, and Pierluigi Longatti

✓Arachnoid cysts are frequent incidental findings on neuroimaging studies and in clinical practice. Theories of their origin, still matter for debate, compose four categories: 1) a ball-valve mechanism; 2) an osmotic gradient between the intra- and extracystic medium; 3) primary malformation of the arachnoid membrane or cerebral lobe agenesis; and 4) fluid hypersecretion by the lining cells of the cyst wall. The cause of cyst enlargement is also debatable, although there is strong controversial evidence supporting the last two theories rather than the former. Brain water homeostasis and its regulatory pathways are weakly understood at the molecular level. In this brief report the authors attempt to add new insights into the pathogenesis of arachnoid cysts by considering aquaporin expression in the cyst wall and discuss possible future research directions and molecular targets.

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Cavernoma of the foramen of Monro

Case report and review of the literature

Pierluigi Longatti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alessandro Perin, Vittorio Baratto, and Andrea Martinuzzi

✓The authors report on a patient who presented with an intraventricular mass located at the level of the foramen of Monro. The clinical presentation and neuroimaging appearance of the mass led to an initial diagnosis of colloid cyst. A neuroendoscopic approach offered a direct view of the ventricular lesion, which was found to be a cavernous angioma partially occluding the foramen of Monro. The lesion was then removed using microsurgery. In this report the authors highlight possible pitfalls in the diagnosis of some lesions of the third ventricle, and the possible advantages of using a combined endoscopic and microsurgical technique when approaching such lesions.