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John D. Heiss, Giancarlo Suffredini, René Smith, Hetty L. DeVroom, Nicholas J. Patronas, John A. Butman, Francine Thomas and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Craniocervical decompression for Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) and syringomyelia has been reported to fail in 10%–40% of patients. The present prospective clinical study was designed to test the hypothesis that in cases in which syringomyelia persists after surgery, craniocervical decompression relieves neither the physiological block at the foramen magnum nor the mechanism of syringomyelia progression.

Methods

The authors prospectively evaluated and treated 16 patients with CM-I who had persistent syringomyelia despite previous craniocervical decompression. Testing before surgery included the following: 1) clinical examination; 2) evaluation of the anatomy using T1-weighted MR imaging; 3) assessment of the syrinx and CSF velocity and flow using cine phase-contrast MR imaging; and 4) appraisal of the lumbar and cervical subarachnoid pressures at rest, during a Valsalva maneuver, during jugular compression, and following the removal of CSF (CSF compliance measurement). During surgery, ultrasonography was performed to observe the motion of the cerebellar tonsils and syrinx walls; pressure measurements were obtained from the intracranial and lumbar intrathecal spaces. The surgical procedure involved enlarging the previous craniectomy and performing an expansile duraplasty with autologous pericranium. Three to 6 months after surgery, clinical examination, MR imaging, and CSF pressure recordings were repeated. Clinical examination and MR imaging studies were then repeated annually.

Results

Before reexploration, patients had a decreased size of the CSF pathways and a partial blockage in CSF transmission at the foramen magnum. Cervical subarachnoid pressure and pulse pressure were abnormally elevated. During surgery, ultrasonographic imaging demonstrated active pulsation of the cerebellar tonsils, with the tonsils descending during cardiac systole and concomitant narrowing of the upper pole of the syrinx. Three months after reoperation, patency of the CSF pathways was restored and pressure transmission was improved. The flow of syrinx fluid and the diameter of the syrinx decreased after surgery in 15 of 16 patients.

Conclusions

Persistent blockage of the CSF pathways at the foramen magnum resulted in increased pulsation of the cerebellar tonsils, which acted on a partially enclosed cervical subarachnoid space to create elevated cervical CSF pressure waves, which in turn affected the external surface of the spinal cord to force CSF into the spinal cord through the Virchow-Robin spaces and to propel the syrinx fluid caudally, leading to syrinx progression. A surgical procedure that reestablished the CSF pathways at the foramen magnum reversed this pathophysiological mechanism and resolved syringomyelia. Elucidating the pathophysiology of persistent syringomyelia has implications for its primary and secondary treatment.

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Editorial

Unresolved issues: radiosurgery versus radiation therapy; medical suppression of growth hormone production during radiosurgery; and endoscopic surgery versus microscopic surgery

Edward H. Oldfield

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010

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Editorial

Transnasal endoscopic surgery for craniopharyngiomas

Edward H. Oldfield

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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.

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Ryszard M. Pluta, John A. Butman, Bawarjan Schatlo, Dennis L. Johnson and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Investigators in experimental and clinical studies have used the intrathecal route to deliver drugs to prevent or treat vasospasm. However, a clot near an artery or arteries after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) may hamper distribution and limit the effects of intrathecally delivered compounds. In a primate model of right middle cerebral artery (MCA) SAH, the authors examined the distribution of Isovue-M 300 and 3% Evans blue after infusion into the cisterna magna CSF.

Methods

Ten cynomolgus monkeys were assigned to SAH and sham SAH surgery groups (5 in each group). Monkeys received CSF injections as long as 28 days after SAH and were killed 3 hours after the contrast/Evans blue injection. The authors assessed the distribution of contrast material on serial CT within 2 hours after contrast injection and during autopsy within 3 hours after Evans blue staining.

Results

Computed tomography cisternographies showed no contrast in the vicinity of the right MCA (p < 0.05 compared with left); the distribution of contrast surrounding the entire right cerebral hemisphere was substantially reduced. Postmortem analysis demonstrated much less Evans blue staining of the right hemisphere surface compared with the left. Furthermore, the Evans blue dye did not penetrate into the right sylvian fissure, which occurred surrounding the left MCA. The authors observed the same pattern of changes and differences in contrast distribution between SAH and sham SAH animals and between the right and the left hemispheres on Days 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 after SAH.

Conclusions

Intrathecal drug distribution is substantially limited by SAH. Thus, when using intrathecal drug delivery after SAH, vasoactive drugs are unlikely to reach the arteries that are at the highest risk of delayed cerebral vasospasm.

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Editorial

Pituitary surgery

Martin H. Weiss

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Jay Jagannathan, Rene Smith, Hetty L. DeVroom, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Constantine A. Stratakis, Lynnette K. Nieman and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Many patients with Cushing disease still have active or recurrent disease after pituitary surgery. The histological pseudocapsule of a pituitary adenoma is a layer of compressed normal anterior lobe that surrounds the adenoma and can be used during surgery to identify and guide removal of the tumor. In this study the authors examined the results of using the pseudocapsule as a surgical capsule in the resection of adenomas in patients with Cushing disease.

Methods

The authors reviewed a prospective database of data obtained in patients with Cushing disease who underwent surgery. The analysis included all cases in which a lesion was identified during surgery and in which the lesion was believed to be confined to the pituitary gland in patients with Cushing disease between January 1990 and March 2007. Since the objective was to determine the success of using the pseudocapsule as a surgical capsule, patients with invasive tumors and patients in whom no lesion was identified during surgery—challenging cases for surgical success—were excluded from analysis.

Results

In 261 patients an encapsulated adenoma was identified at surgery. Tumor was visible on MR imaging in 135 patients (52%); in 126 patients (48%) MR imaging detected no tumor. The range of tumor size overlapped considerably in the groups with positive and negative MR imaging results, indicating that in addition to size other features of the adenoma influence the results of MR imaging. In 252 patients hypercortisolism resolved after the first operation, whereas in 9 patients (3 with positive MR imaging and 6 with negative MR imaging) early reoperation was required. Hypercortisolism resolved in all 261 patients (256 with hypocortisolism and 5 with eucortisolism) before hospital discharge. Forty-six patients (18%) had postoperative electrolyte abnormalities (30 with hyponatremia and 16 with diabetes insipidus), but only 2 patients required treatment at discharge. The mean clinical follow-up duration was 84 months (range 12–215 months). Six patients (2%) had recurrence of hypercortisolism, all of whom were treated successfully with reoperation.

Conclusions

Because of their small size, adenomas can be challenging to identify in patients with Cushing disease. Use of the histological pseudocapsule of an adenoma allows accurate identification of the tumor and helps guide its complete excision. With this approach the overall remission rate is high and the rate of complications is low.

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Russell R. Lonser, John A. Butman, Ruwan Kiringoda, Debbie Song and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Pituitary stalk hemangioblastomas are rare, and information on them is limited to a small number of case reports. To gain insight into the incidence, clinical effects, and management of pituitary stalk hemangioblastomas, the authors analyzed a series of patients with von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) disease.

Methods

Patients with VHL disease who were enrolled in a prospective National Institutes of Health natural history study were included. Clinical, imaging, and laboratory findings were analyzed.

Results

Two hundred fifty patients were included in the study (120 male and 130 female patients). In 8 patients (3%), 8 pituitary stalk hemangioblastomas were identified on MR imaging. This anatomical location was the most common supratentorial site for these lesions; 29% of all supratentorial hemangioblastomas were found there. The mean (± standard deviation) pituitary stalk hemangioblastoma volume was 0.5 ± 0.9 cm3 (range 0.08–2.8 cm3). Results of endocrine laboratory profiles were normal in all patients. All patients remained asymptomatic and none required treatment during the follow-up period (mean duration 41.4 ± 14.4 months).

Conclusions

The pituitary stalk is the most common site for the development of supratentorial hemangioblastomas in patients with VHL disease. Pituitary stalk hemangioblastomas often remain asymptomatic and do not require treatment. These findings indicate that pituitary stalk hemangioblastomas in patients with VHL disease may be managed with observation and that surgery for them can be reserved until associated signs or symptoms occur.

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Edward H. Oldfield

From the earliest observations of spinal vascular malformations, successful management has been challenging. Initially the challenges were diagnosing, understanding, and treating these lesions. They were originally considered all to be the same, or at least to be a single general type, of disease. With the introduction of selective spinal arteriography in the 1960s and more recently with the introduction and widespread use of MR imaging, the initial challenge of diagnosing spinal vascular malformations was overcome, and significant progress has been made in understanding their anatomy as well as the pathophysiology that underlies the myelopathy commonly associated with them. The anatomical features defined by selective arteriography and the observations permitted with the operating microscope ultimately led to distinctions between the major categories of the vascular lesions affecting the spinal cord; these distinctions were based on the lesions' anatomy, epidemiology, and the mechanism of spinal cord injury.