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Gautam U. Mehta, Kamran D. Bakhtian and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Primary empty sella syndrome (ESS) results from herniation of arachnoid mater into the pituitary fossa. It has been suggested to have a negative effect on pituitary surgery; however, outcomes in this cohort have not been defined. This study was performed to determine the effect of ESS on immediate and long-term biochemical outcome after pituitary surgery for Cushing's disease (CD).

Methods

Using a matched cohort study design, the authors followed patients treated with pituitary surgery for CD with and without ESS. Complete ESS was defined as pituitary gland height ≤ 2 mm, whereas partial ESS was defined as pituitary gland height > 2 mm but less than three-quarters of the total sellar depth. The primary end points were immediate and long-term biochemical outcome. Cerebrospinal fluid leaks were recorded as a secondary end point.

Results

Seventy-eight patients with CD and primary ESS were identified and matched with 78 patients with CD without ESS. After surgical management, immediate biochemical remission was achieved in 69 patients (88%) with ESS and 75 controls (96%, p = 0.10). Long-term remission was achieved in most patients in both groups (5-year cure: 85% vs 92%, p = 0.10). Among patients with ESS, the presence of complete ESS predicted a worse long-term outcome (p = 0.04). Intraoperative CSF leaks were significantly more frequent with ESS (54% vs 24%, p < 0.001), and despite sellar floor repair, the rate of postoperative CSF leaks was also increased (6% vs 3%, p = 0.27).

Conclusions

Biochemical outcome after pituitary surgery for CD was worse in patients with complete ESS, and the risk of a CSF leak was increased with both partial and complete ESS. However, as outcome remains superior to those following alternative therapies and the biology of these tumors is unchanged in the setting of ESS, pituitary surgery should remain the initial treatment of choice.

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Russell R. Lonser, John A. Butman, Kristin Huntoon, Ashok R. Asthagiri, Tianxia Wu, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Emily Y. Chew, Zhengping Zhuang, W. Marston Linehan and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

The tumors most frequently associated with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease are hemangioblastomas. While they are associated with significant neurological impairment and mortality, their natural history and optimal management have not been fully defined.

Methods

Patients with VHL were enrolled in a prospective study designed to define the natural history of CNS hemangioblastomas. In the present analysis, serial imaging, laboratory, genetic, and clinical data were evaluated in those with at least 2 years of follow-up data.

Results

At study entrance 225 patients (111 males, 114 females) harbored 1921 CNS hemangioblastomas in the supratentorial compartment (21 tumors [1%]), cerebellum (865 [45%]), brainstem (129 [7%]), spinal cord (689 [36%]), cauda equina (212 [11%]), and nerve roots (5 [0.3%]; follow-up 15,819 hemangioblastoma-years). Increased tumor burden was associated with partial deletions in the VHL gene (p = 0.005) and male sex (p = 0.002). Hemangioblastoma development (median 0.3 new tumors/year) was associated with younger age (p < 0.0001) and more tumors at study entrance (p < 0.0001). While 1278 hemangioblastomas (51%) did not grow, 1227 hemangioblastomas (49%) grew in a saltatory (886 [72%]), linear (76 [6%]), or exponential (264 [22%]) pattern. Faster tumor growth was associated with male sex (p = 0.001), symptomatic tumors (p < 0.0001), and tumors associated with cysts (p < 0.0001). Location-dependent tumor size was the primary predictor of eventual symptom formation (159 symptomatic tumors [6.3%]; area under the curve > 0.9).

Conclusions

Central nervous system hemangioblastoma burden in VHL is associated with partial germline deletions and male sex. Unpredictable growth of hemangioblastomas compromises assessment of nonsurgical therapies. The judicious treatment of symptom-producing hemangioblastomas, while avoiding unnecessary treatment of asymptomatic tumors that may not progress, can provide clinical stability. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00005902 (ClinicalTrials.gov).

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Carlijn Frantzen, Sophie J. van Asselt, Roeliene C. Kruizinga, Caroline Abadie, Isabelle Coupier, Stéphane Richard, Gerhard Alsmeier, Joyce W. Graff, Mariëlle G. van Pampus, Rachel H. Giles and Thera P. Links

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Andrew Shaw and E. Antonio Chiocca

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Donald Y. Ye, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Ashok R. Asthagiri and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Prior cases suggest that pregnancy increases the development and progression of CNS hemangioblastomas and/or peritumoral cysts. To determine the effect of pregnancy on CNS hemangioblastomas and peritumoral cysts, the authors prospectively evaluated serial clinical and imaging findings in patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease who became pregnant and compared findings during pregnancy to findings in the same patients when they were not pregnant as well as to findings from a cohort of VHL patients who did not become pregnant.

Methods

Female VHL disease patients enrolled in a prospective natural history study who were of reproductive age (16–35 years at study entrance) were included. Analysis of serial clinical and imaging findings was performed.

Results

Thirty-six consecutive female VHL disease patients harboring 177 hemangioblastomas were included (mean follow-up [± SD] 7.5 ± 2.3 years). Nine patients (25%) became pregnant (pregnancy cohort). The mean rates of development of new hemangioblastomas and peritumoral cysts in these women during pregnancy (0.4 ± 0.4 tumors/year; 0.1 ± 0.2 cysts/year) did not differ significantly (p > 0.05) from the mean rates in the same group during nonpregnant periods (0.3 ± 0.4 tumors/year; 0.1 ± −0.1 cysts/year) or from the rate in the 27 patients who did not become pregnant (the no-pregnancy cohort: 0.3 ± 0.5 tumors/year; 0.1 ± 0.2 cysts/year). Hemangioblastoma growth rates were similar (p > 0.05) during pregnancy (mean 29.8% ± 42.7% increase in volume per year) compared with during nonpregnant periods (41.4% ± 51.4%) in the pregnancy cohort and the no-pregnancy cohort (34.3% ± 55.3%). Peritumoral cyst growth rates during pregnancy (571.0% ± 887.4%) were similar (p > 0.05) to those of the no-pregnancy cohort (483.9% ± 493.9%), but the rates were significantly higher for women in the pregnancy cohort during nonpregnant periods (2373.6% ± 3392.9%; p < 0.05 for comparison with no-pregnancy cohort). There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) in the need for resection or the mean age at resection between the pregnancy (28% of hemangioblastomas in cohort; mean patient age at resection 30.2 ± 2.6 years) and no-pregnancy cohorts (19%; 32.3 ± 5.6 years).

Conclusions

Pregnancy is not associated with increased hemangioblastoma or peritumoral cyst development or progression in patients with VHL disease.

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John D. Heiss, Giancarlo Suffredini, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Malisa Sarntinoranont and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is characterized by hindbrain deformity. We investigated the effects of craniocervical decompression surgery on the anatomical features of hindbrain deformity with a prospective MRI study of patients with CM-I.

Methods

A prospective longitudinal study was conducted in 48 patients with CM-I (39 with syringomyelia) treated with craniocervical decompression. Clinical examinations and cervical MRI were performed before surgery and 1 week, 3–6 months, and annually after surgery. Hindbrain deformity was defined by tonsillar ectopia, pointed cerebellar tonsils, and/or cervicomedullary protuberance. The length of the clivus, basiocciput (sphenooccipital synchondrosis to basion), supraocciput (internal occipital protuberance to opisthion), and anteroposterior (AP) width of CSF pathways at the foramen magnum were measured and compared with those from 18 healthy volunteers (control group).

Results

Before surgery, the patients' posterior fossa bones were short and their CSF pathways were narrow. All patients had tonsillar ectopia (mean [± SD] 12.3 ± 5.1 mm; normal 0.3 ± 1.0). The majority of patients had pointed tonsils and more than two-thirds exhibited a cervicomedullary protuberance. Clivus and basiocciput lengths were significantly shorter than the values obtained in the control group. However, the supraocciput length did not differ significantly from control measurements. The mean bulbopontine sulcus distance superior to the basion was 9.5 ± 2.6 mm (vs 13.6 ± 2.8 mm in controls; p < 0.0001). The AP widths of the CSF pathways at the level of the foramen magnum were significantly narrowed. After surgery, CSF pathways significantly expanded both ventrally and dorsally. By 3–6 months after surgery, pointed tonsils became round, cervicomedullary protuberance disappeared, and tonsillar ectopia diminished by 51% (to 6.0 ± 3.3 mm; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

The cerebellar tonsils and brainstem assumed a normal appearance within 6 months after craniocervical decompression. These findings support the concept that the CM-I is not a congenital malformation of the neural elements but rather an acquired malformation that arises from pulsatile impaction of the cerebellar tonsils into the foramen magnum. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00001327.

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Ali Reza Fathi, Ryszard M. Pluta, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Meng Qi and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH)-induced vasospasm is a significant underlying cause of aneurysm rupture-related morbidity and death. While long-term intravenous infusion of sodium nitrite (NaNO2) can prevent cerebral vasospasm after SAH, it is not known if the intravenous administration of this compound can reverse established SAH-induced vasospasm. To determine if the intravenous infusion of NaNO2 can reverse established vasospasm, the authors infused primates with the compound after SAH-induced vasospasm was established.

Methods

Subarachnoid hemorrhage–induced vasospasm was created in 14 cynomolgus macaques via subarachnoid implantation of a 5-ml blood clot. On Day 7 after clot implantation, animals were randomized to either control (saline infusion, 5 monkeys) or treatment groups (intravenous NaNO2 infusion at 300 μg/kg/hr for 3 hours [7 monkeys] or 8 hours [2 monkeys]). Arteriographic vessel diameter was blindly analyzed to determine the degree of vasospasm before, during, and after treatment. Nitric oxide metabolites (nitrite, nitrate, and S-nitrosothiols) were measured in whole blood and CSF.

Results

Moderate-to-severe vasospasm was present in all animals before treatment (control, 36.2% ± 8.8% [mean ± SD]; treatment, 45.5% ± 12.5%; p = 0.9). While saline infusion did not reduce vasospasm, NaNO2 infusion significantly reduced the degree of vasospasm (26.9% ± 7.6%; p = 0.008). Reversal of the vasospasm lasted more than 2 hours after cessation of the infusion and could be maintained with a prolonged infusion. Nitrite (peak value, 3.7 ± 2.1 μmol/L), nitrate (18.2 ± 5.3 μmol/L), and S-nitrosothiols (33.4 ± 11.4 nmol/L) increased significantly in whole blood, and nitrite increased significantly in CSF.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that the intravenous infusion of NaNO2 can reverse SAH-induced vasospasm in primates. Further, these findings indicate that a similar treatment paradigm could be useful in reversing cerebral vasospasm after aneurysmal SAH.

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Joshua J. Wind, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Jennifer A. Sweet, Gautam U. Mehta, Jayesh P. Thawani, Ashok R. Asthagiri, Edward H. Oldfield and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Brainstem hemangioblastomas are frequently encountered in patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease. These tumors can cause significant morbidity, and their optimal management has not been defined. To better define the outcome and management of these tumors, the authors analyzed the long-term results in patients who underwent resection of brainstem hemangioblastomas.

Methods

Consecutive patients with VHL disease who underwent resection of brainstem hemangioblastomas with a follow-up of 12 months or more were included in this study. Serial functional assessments, radiographic examinations, and operative records were analyzed.

Results

Forty-four patients (17 male and 27 female) underwent 51 operations for resection of 71 brainstem hemangioblastomas. The most common presenting symptoms were headache, swallowing difficulties, singultus, gait difficulties, and sensory abnormalities. The mean follow-up was 5.9 ± 5.0 years (range 1.0–20.8 years). Immediately after 34 operations (66.7%), the patients remained at their preoperative functional status; they improved after 8 operations (15.7%) and worsened after 9 operations (17.6%) as measured by the McCormick scale. Eight (88.9%) of the 9 patients who were worse immediately after resection returned to their preoperative status within 6 months. Two patients experienced functional decline during long-term follow-up (beginning at 2.5 and 5 years postoperatively) caused by extensive VHL disease–associated CNS disease.

Conclusions

Generally, resection of symptomatic brainstem hemangioblastomas is a safe and effective management strategy in patients with VHL disease. Most patients maintain their preoperative functional status, although long-term decline in functional status may occur due to VHL disease–associated progression.

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Gautam U. Mehta, Ashok R. Asthagiri, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Sungyoung Auh, Edward H. Oldfield and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Spinal cord hemangioblastomas are a common protean manifestation of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease and can be associated with significant morbidity. To better define expected outcome and optimal management of these tumors in the context of this neoplasia syndrome, the authors analyzed the findings from patients with VHL disease who underwent resection of spinal cord hemangioblastomas.

Methods

Consecutive patients with VHL disease who underwent surgery for spinal cord hemangioblastomas with > 6 months follow-up were included in the study. Serial clinical examinations, functional scores, imaging findings, and operative records were analyzed.

Results

One hundred eight patients (57 male, 51 female) underwent 156 operations for resection of 218 spinal cord hemangioblastomas. One hundred forty-six operations (94%) were performed for symptom-producing tumors. The most common presenting symptoms included hypesthesia (64% of resections), hyperreflexia (57%), dysesthesia (43%), and weakness (36%). Mean follow-up was 7.0 ± 5.0 years (range 0.5–20.9 years). Complete resection was achieved for 217 tumors (99.5%). At 6-months follow-up, patients were stable or improved after 149 operations (96%) and worse after 7 operations (4%). Ventral tumors (OR 15.66, 95% CI 2.54–96.45; p = 0.003) or completely intramedullary tumors (OR 10.74, 95% CI 2.07–55.66; p = 0.005) were associated with an increased risk of postoperative worsening. The proportion of patients remaining functionally stable at 2, 5, 10, and 15 years' follow-up was 93, 86, 78, and 78%. Long-term functional decline was caused by extensive VHL-associated CNS disease (6 patients), VHL-associated visceral disease (1 patient), or non-VHL disease (2 patients).

Conclusions

Resection of symptomatic spinal cord hemangioblastomas is a safe and effective means of preserving neurological function in patients with VHL disease. Tumor location (ventral or completely intramedullary) can be used to assess functional risk associated with surgery. Long-term decline in neurological function is usually caused by VHL-associated disease progression.