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Ethan A. Winkler, Alex Lu, Ramin A. Morshed, John K. Yue, W. Caleb Rutledge, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Arati B. Patel, Simon G. Ammanuel, Steve Braunstein, Christine K. Fox, Heather J. Fullerton, Helen Kim, Daniel Cooke, Steven W. Hetts, Michael T. Lawton, Adib A. Abla, and Nalin Gupta

OBJECTIVE

Brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) consist of dysplastic blood vessels with direct arteriovenous shunts that can hemorrhage spontaneously. In children, a higher lifetime hemorrhage risk must be balanced with treatment-related morbidity. The authors describe a collaborative, multimodal strategy resulting in effective and safe treatment of pediatric AVMs.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database was performed in children with treated and nontreated pediatric AVMs at the University of California, San Francisco, from 1998 to 2017. Inclusion criteria were age ≤ 18 years at time of diagnosis and an AVM confirmed by a catheter angiogram.

RESULTS

The authors evaluated 189 pediatric patients with AVMs over the study period, including 119 ruptured (63%) and 70 unruptured (37%) AVMs. The mean age at diagnosis was 11.6 ± 4.3 years. With respect to Spetzler-Martin (SM) grade, there were 38 (20.1%) grade I, 40 (21.2%) grade II, 62 (32.8%) grade III, 40 (21.2%) grade IV, and 9 (4.8%) grade V lesions. Six patients were managed conservatively, and 183 patients underwent treatment, including 120 resections, 82 stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and 37 endovascular embolizations. Forty-four of 49 (89.8%) high-grade AVMs (SM grade IV or V) were treated. Multiple treatment modalities were used in 29.5% of low-grade and 27.3% of high-grade AVMs. Complete angiographic obliteration was obtained in 73.4% of low-grade lesions (SM grade I–III) and in 45.2% of high-grade lesions. A periprocedural stroke occurred in a single patient (0.5%), and there was 1 treatment-related death. The mean clinical follow-up for the cohort was 4.1 ± 4.6 years, and 96.6% and 84.3% of patients neurologically improved or remained unchanged in the ruptured and unruptured AVM groups following treatment, respectively. There were 16 bleeding events following initiation of AVM treatment (annual rate: 0.02 events per person-year).

CONCLUSIONS

Coordinated multidisciplinary evaluation and individualized planning can result in safe and effective treatment of children with AVMs. In particular, it is possible to treat the majority of high-grade AVMs with an acceptable safety profile. Judicious use of multimodality therapy should be limited to appropriately selected patients after thorough team-based discussions to avoid additive morbidity. Future multicenter studies are required to better design predictive models to aid with patient selection for multimodal pediatric care, especially with high-grade AVMs.

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Ethan A. Winkler, Harjus Birk, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Xiaolin Chen, John K. Yue, Diana Guo, W. Caleb Rutledge, George F. Lasker, Carlene Partow, Tarik Tihan, Edward F. Chang, Hua Su, Helen Kim, Brian P. Walcott, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs) are rupture-prone tangles of blood vessels with direct shunting of blood flow between arterial and venous circulations. The molecular and/or cellular mechanisms contributing to bAVM pathogenesis and/or destabilization in sporadic lesions have remained elusive. Initial insights into AVM formation have been gained through models of genetic AVM syndromes. And while many studies have focused on endothelial cells, the contributions of other vascular cell types have yet to be systematically studied. Pericytes are multifunctional mural cells that regulate brain angiogenesis, blood-brain barrier integrity, and vascular stability. Here, the authors analyze the abundance of brain pericytes and their association with vascular changes in sporadic human AVMs.

METHODS

Tissues from bAVMs and from temporal lobe specimens from patients with medically intractable epilepsy (nonvascular lesion controls [NVLCs]) were resected. Immunofluorescent staining with confocal microscopy was performed to quantify pericytes (platelet-derived growth factor receptor–beta [PDGFRβ] and aminopeptidase N [CD13]) and extravascular hemoglobin. Iron-positive hemosiderin deposits were quantified with Prussian blue staining. Syngo iFlow post–image processing was used to measure nidal blood flow on preintervention angiograms.

RESULTS

Quantitative immunofluorescent analysis demonstrated a 68% reduction in the vascular pericyte number in bAVMs compared with the number in NVLCs (p < 0.01). Additional analysis demonstrated 52% and 50% reductions in the vascular surface area covered by CD13- and PDGFRβ-positive pericyte cell processes, respectively, in bAVMs (p < 0.01). Reductions in pericyte coverage were statistically significantly greater in bAVMs with prior rupture (p < 0.05). Unruptured bAVMs had increased microhemorrhage, as evidenced by a 15.5-fold increase in extravascular hemoglobin compared with levels in NVLCs (p < 0.01). Within unruptured bAVM specimens, extravascular hemoglobin correlated negatively with pericyte coverage (CD13: r = −0.93, p < 0.01; PDGFRβ: r = −0.87, p < 0.01). A similar negative correlation was observed with pericyte coverage and Prussian blue–positive hemosiderin deposits (CD13: r = −0.90, p < 0.01; PDGFRβ: r = −0.86, p < 0.01). Pericyte coverage positively correlated with the mean transit time of blood flow or the time that circulating blood spends within the bAVM nidus (CD13: r = 0.60, p < 0.05; PDGFRβ: r = 0.63, p < 0.05). A greater reduction in pericyte coverage is therefore associated with a reduced mean transit time or faster rate of blood flow through the bAVM nidus. No correlations were observed with time to peak flow within feeding arteries or draining veins.

CONCLUSIONS

Brain pericyte number and coverage are reduced in sporadic bAVMs and are lowest in cases with prior rupture. In unruptured bAVMs, pericyte reductions correlate with the severity of microhemorrhage. A loss of pericytes also correlates with a faster rate of blood flow through the bAVM nidus. This suggests that pericytes are associated with and may contribute to vascular fragility and hemodynamic changes in bAVMs. Future studies in animal models are needed to better characterize the role of pericytes in AVM pathogenesis.

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Ethan A. Winkler, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, W. Caleb Rutledge, Jonathan W. Rick, Carlene P. Partow, John K. Yue, Harjus Birk, Ashley M. Bach, Kunal P. Raygor, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus is an important cause of morbidity following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) in excess of 20% of cases. Hydrocephalus leads to prolonged hospital and ICU stays, well as to repeated surgical interventions, readmissions, and complications associated with ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts, including shunt failure and infection. Whether variations in surgical technique at the time of aneurysm treatment may modify rates of shunt dependency remains a matter of debate. Here, the authors report on their experience with tandem fenestration of the lamina terminalis (LT) and membrane of Liliequist (MoL) at the time of open microsurgical repair of the ruptured aneurysm.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of 663 consecutive patients with aSAH treated from 2005 to 2015 by open microsurgery via a pterional or orbitozygomatic craniotomy by the senior author (M.T.L.). Data collected from review of the electronic medical record included age, Hunt and Hess grade, Fisher grade, need for an external ventricular drain, and opening pressure. Patients were stratified into those undergoing no fenestration and those undergoing tandem fenestration of the LT and MoL at the time of surgical repair. Outcome variables, including VP shunt placement and timing of shunt placement, were recorded and statistically analyzed.

RESULTS

In total, shunt-dependent hydrocephalus was observed in 15.8% of patients undergoing open surgical repair following aSAH. Tandem microsurgical fenestration of the LT and MoL was associated with a statistically significant reduction in shunt dependency (17.9% vs 3.2%, p < 0.01). This effect was confirmed with multivariate analysis of collected variables (multivariate OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.03–0.30). Number-needed-to-treat analysis demonstrated that tandem fenestration was required in approximately 6.8 patients to prevent a single VP shunt placement. A statistically significant prolongation in days to VP shunt surgery was also observed in patients treated with tandem fenestration (26.6 ± 19.4 days vs 54.0 ± 36.5 days, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Tandem fenestration of the LT and MoL at the time of open microsurgical clipping and/or bypass to secure ruptured anterior and posterior circulation aneurysms is associated with reductions in shunt-dependent hydrocephalus following aSAH. Future prospective randomized multicenter studies are needed to confirm this result.

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Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler, George F. Lasker, John K. Yue, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Compressive cranial nerve syndromes can be useful bedside clues to the diagnosis of an enlarging intracranial aneurysm and can also guide subsequent evaluation, as with an acute oculomotor nerve (cranial nerve [CN] III) palsy that is presumed to be a posterior communicating artery aneurysm and a surgical emergency until proven otherwise. The CN VI has a short cisternal segment from the pontomedullary sulcus to Dorello’s canal, remote from most PICA aneurysms but in the hemodynamic pathway of a rupturing PICA aneurysm that projects toward Dorello’s canal. The authors describe a cranial nerve syndrome for posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) aneurysms that associates subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and an isolated abducens nerve (CN VI) palsy.

METHODS

Clinical and radiological data from 106 surgical patients with PICA aneurysms (66 ruptured and 40 unruptured) were retrospectively reviewed. Data from a group of 174 patients with other aneurysmal SAH (aSAH) were analyzed in a similar manner to control for nonspecific effects of SAH. Univariate statistical analysis compared incidence and risk factors associated with CN VI palsy in subarachnoid hemorrhage.

RESULTS

Overall, 13 (4.6%) of 280 patients had CN VI palsy at presentation, and all of them had ruptured aneurysms (representing 13 [5.4%] of the 240 cases of ruptured aneurysms). CN VI palsies were observed in 12 patients with ruptured PICA aneurysms (12/66 [18.1%]) and 1 patient with other aSAH (1/174 [0.1%], p < 0.0001). PICA aneurysm location in ruptured aneurysms was an independent predictor for CN VI palsy on multivariate analysis (p = 0.001). PICA aneurysm size was not significantly different in patients with or without CN VI palsy (average size 4.4 mm and 5.2 mm, respectively). Within the PICA aneurysm cohort, modified Fisher grade (p = 0.011) and presence of a thick cisternal SAH (modified Fisher Grades 3 and 4) (p = 0.003) were predictors of CN VI palsy. In all patients with ruptured PICA aneurysms and CN VI palsy, dome projection and presumed direction of rupture were directed toward the ipsilateral and/or contralateral Dorello’s canal, in agreement with laterality of the CN palsy. In patients with bilateral CN VI palsies, a medial projection with extensive subarachnoid blood was observed near bilateral canals.

CONCLUSIONS

This study establishes a localizing connection between an isolated CN VI palsy, SAH, and an underlying ruptured PICA aneurysm. CN VI palsy is an important clinical sign in aSAH and when present on initial clinical presentation may be assumed to be due to ruptured PICA aneurysms until proven otherwise. The deficit may be ipsilateral, contralateral, or bilateral and is determined by the direction of the aneurysm dome projection and extent of subarachnoid bleeding toward Dorello’s canal, rather than by direct compression.