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Bruce E. Pollock, L. Dade Lunsford, Douglas Kondziolka, David J. Bissonette, and John C. Flickinger

✓ Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) that are located within the postgeniculate optic radiations or striate cortex are difficult to resect without creating postoperative visual defects. To reduce the risk of an AVM hemorrhage and to enhance the possibility of preserving visual function, the authors performed stereotactic radiosurgery in 34 patients with newly diagnosed or residual AVMs of the visual pathways. The mean AVM volume was 4.7 ml, and the average radiation dose to the AVM margin was 21 Gy. The median follow up was 47 months (range 16–83 months). Two (6%) of 34 patients had documented new visual field defects (central scotoma in one, and partial hemianopsia in one) after single-stage radiosurgery, but no patient developed a new permanent homonymous hemianopsia. Angiography was performed in all patients at a median of 26 months after radiosurgery: 22 (65%) had complete obliteration, 10 (29%) had a significant decrease in AVM volume, one (3%) had only a persistent early draining vein without residual nidus, and one (3%) had no change in the AVM. Thirteen (81%) of 16 patients with AVMs less of than 4 ml had complete obliteration. Five patients had second-stage stereotactic radiosurgery after angiography revealed a persistent AVM nidus; two patients eligible for follow-up angiography had complete obliteration, thereby increasing the overall series obliteration rate to 71%. The calculated annual risk of AVM bleeding (before radiographic evidence of obliteration) was 2.4%. No patient bled after angiographically confirmed obliteration.

In most patients stereotactic radiosurgery obliterates visual pathway AVMs and also preserves preoperative visual function. Multimodality management (embolization, microsurgery, or staged radiosurgery) enhances AVM obliteration and visual preservation rates.

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Bruce E. Pollock, Douglas Kondziolka, John C. Flickinger, Atul K. Patel, David J. Bissonette, and L. Dade Lunsford

✓ To determine the accuracy of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in comparison to cerebral angiography after radiosurgery for an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), the authors reviewed the records of patients who underwent radiosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center before 1992. All patients in the analysis had AVMs in which the flow-void signal was visible on preradiosurgical MR imaging. One hundred sixty-four postradiosurgical angiograms were obtained in 140 patients at a median of 2 months after postradiosurgical MR imaging (median 24 months after radiosurgery). Magnetic resonance imaging correctly predicted patency in 64 of 80 patients in whom patent AVMs were seen on follow-up angiography (sensitivity 80%) and angiographic obliteration in 84 of 84 patients (specificity 100%). Overall, 84 of 100 AVMs in which evidence of obliteration was seen on MR images displayed angiographic obliteration (negative predictive value, 84%). Ten of the 16 patients with false-negative MR images underwent follow-up angiography: in seven the lesions progressed to complete angiographic obliteration without further treatment. Exclusion of these seven patients from the false-negative MR imaging group increases the predictive value of a negative postradiosurgical MR image from 84% to 91%. No AVM hemorrhage was observed in clinical follow up of 135 patients after evidence of obliteration on MR imaging (median follow-up interval 35 months; range 2–96 months; total follow up 382 patient-years).

Magnetic resonance imaging proved to be an accurate, noninvasive method for evaluating the patency of AVMs that were identifiable on MR imaging after stereotactic radiosurgery. This imaging modality is less expensive, more acceptable to patients, and does not have the potential for neurological complications that may be associated with cerebral angiography. The risk associated with follow-up cerebral angiography may no longer justify its role in the assessment of radiosurgical results in the treatment of AVMs.

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Bruce E. Pollock and Douglas Kondziolka

✓ Sphenopalatine neuralgia is a rare craniofacial pain syndrome that is characterized by unilateral pain in the orbit, mouth, nose, and posterior mastoid process. During attacks of pain, vasomotor activity often results in ipsilateral nasal drainage, eye irritation, and lacrimation. The authors present a patient with a 15-year history of sphenopalatine neuralgia who underwent stereotactic radiosurgery targeted at the sphenopalatine ganglion, with initial pain relief, and repeated radiosurgery 17 months later for partial pain recurrence. Two years following radiosurgery, the patient is pain free, no longer suffering from nasal discharge and eye irritation.

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Vestibular schwannoma management

Part I. Failed microsurgery and the role of delayed stereotactic radiosurgery

Bruce E. Pollock, L. Dade Lunsford, John C. Flickinger, Brent L. Clyde, and Douglas Kondziolka

Object. The purpose of this study was to analyze patient outcomes and to define the role of radiosurgery in patients who have undergone prior microsurgical resection of their vestibular schwannoma.

Methods. The authors evaluated the pre- and postoperative clinical and neuroimaging characteristics of 76 consecutive patients with 78 vestibular schwannomas who underwent radiosurgery after previous surgical resection. Twenty-nine patients (37% of tumors) had undergone more than one prior resection. Forty-three patients (55% of tumors) had significant impairment of facial nerve function (House—Brackmann Grades III–VI) after their microsurgical procedure; 50% had trigeminal sensory loss, and 96% had poor speech discrimination (< 50%). The median evaluation period following radiosurgery was 43 months (range 12–101 months). Tumor growth control after radiosurgery was achieved in 73 tumors (94%). Six patients underwent additional surgical resection despite radiosurgery (median of 32 months after radiosurgery), and one patient underwent repeated radiosurgery for tumor progression outside the irradiated volume. Eleven (23%) of 47 patients with Grades I to III facial function before radiosurgery developed increased facial weakness after radiosurgery. Eleven patients (14%) developed new trigeminal symptoms.

Conclusions. Radiosurgery proved to be a safe and effective alternative to additional microsurgery in patients in whom the initial microsurgical removal failed. Stereotactic radiosurgery should be considered for all patients who have regrowth or progression of previously surgically treated vestibular schwannomas.

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Vestibular schwannoma management

Part II. Failed radiosurgery and the role of delayed microsurgery

Bruce E. Pollock, L. Dade Lunsford, Douglas Kondziolka, Raymond Sekula, Brian R. Subach, Robert L. Foote, and John C. Flickinger

Object. The indications, operative findings, and outcomes of vestibular schwannoma microsurgery are controversial when it is performed after stereotactic radiosurgery. To address these issues, the authors reviewed the experience at two academic medical centers.

Methods. During a 10-year interval, 452 patients with unilateral vestibular schwannomas underwent gamma knife radiosurgery. Thirteen patients (2.9%) underwent delayed microsurgery at a median of 27 months (range 7–72 months) after they had undergone radiosurgery. Six of the 13 patients had undergone one or more microsurgical procedures before they underwent radiosurgery. The indications for surgery were tumor enlargement with stable symptoms in five patients, tumor enlargement with new or increased symptoms in five patients, and increased symptoms without evidence of tumor growth in three patients. Gross-total resection was achieved in seven patients and near-gross-total resection in four patients. The surgery was described as more difficult than that typically performed for schwannoma in eight patients, no different in four patients, and easier in one patient. At the last follow-up evaluation, three patients had normal or near-normal facial function, three patients had moderate facial dysfunction, and seven had facial palsies. Three patients were incapable of caring for themselves, and one patient died of progression of a malignant triton tumor.

Conclusions. Failed radiosurgery in cases of vestibular schwannoma was rare. No clear relationship was demonstrated between the use of radiosurgery and the subsequent ease or difficulty of delayed microsurgery. Because some patients have temporary enlargement of their tumor after radiosurgery, the need for surgical resection after radiosurgery should be reviewed with the neurosurgeon who performed the radiosurgery and should be delayed until sustained tumor growth is confirmed. A subtotal tumor resection should be considered for patients who require surgical resection of their tumor after vestibular schwannoma radiosurgery.

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Bruce E. Pollock and John Huston III

Object. To determine the natural history of colloid cysts of the third ventricle in patients in whom the cysts were incidentally discovered, the authors retrospectively reviewed cases observed during the modern neuroimaging era (1974–1998).

Methods. During this 25-year interval, 162 patients with colloid cysts were examined and cared for at our center. Sixty-eight patients (42%) were thought to be asymptomatic with regard to their colloid cyst and observation with serial neuroimaging was recommended. The mean patient age was 57 years at the time of diagnosis (range 7–88 years) and the mean cyst size was 8 mm (range 4–18 mm). Computerized tomography scanning revealed a hyperdense cyst in 49 (84%) of 58 patients. Three patients were excluded from the study because they died of unrelated causes within 6 months of scanning and seven patients were lost to follow-up review. Clinical follow-up evaluation was available at a mean of 79 months (range 7–268 months) in the remaining 58 patients. The numbers of patients who participated in follow-up review at 2, 5, and 10 years after diagnosis were 40, 28, and 14, respectively. The incidences of symptomatic progression related to the cyst were 0%, 0%, and 8% at 2, 5, and 10 years, respectively. No patient died suddenly during the follow-up interval. Two (6%) of 34 patients in whom follow-up imaging was performed either exhibited cyst growth (one patient) or experienced hydrocephalus (one patient) at a mean of 41 months after diagnosis (range 4–160 months).

Conclusions. Patients in whom asymptomatic colloid cysts are diagnosed can be cared for safely with observation and serial neuroimaging. If a patient becomes symptomatic, the cyst enlarges, or hydrocephalus develops, prompt neurosurgical intervention is necessary to prevent the occurrence of neurological decline from these benign tumors.