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Cameron G. McDougall, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Randall T. Higashida, Donald W. Larsen and Grant B. Hieshima

Object. The purpose of this review is to describe the incidence, causes, management, and outcome of aneurysmal hemorrhage that occurred in patients during endovascular treatment with the Guglielmi detachable coil (GDC) system.

Methods. At the authors' institution between September 1991 and August 1995, more than 200 patients were treated using GDCs for intracranial aneurysms. The first 200 patients treated in this fashion were reviewed and all who experienced new subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) during the procedure were identified. Angiographic studies were also reviewed and patients were contacted for longer-term follow up when possible.

Four patients who experienced intraprocedural SAH were identified. The causes of hemorrhage were believed to be perforation of the aneurysm by the guidewire in one patient, perforation by the microcatheter in a second, and perforation by the delivery wire in a third. The fourth patient had a hemorrhage during injection of contrast material for control angiographic studies after placement of the final coil. One patient died, but the other three experienced no neurological symptoms or recovered without acquiring additional deficits. Overall a procedural hemorrhage rate of 2% was seen, with permanent morbidity and mortality rates of 0% and 0.5%, respectively.

Conclusions. Although SAH during endovascular treatment of intracranial aneurysms remains a significant risk, its incidence is low and a majority of patients can survive without serious sequelae.

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Cameron G. McDougall, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Randall T. Higashida, Donald W. Larsen and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Preliminary experience using electrolytically detachable coils to treat basilar tip aneurysms in 33 patients is described. The most frequent presentation was subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in 23 patients. All patients were referred after neurosurgical assessment and exclusion as candidates for surgical clipping of their aneurysms. At the time of initial treatment complete aneurysm occlusion was achieved in seven (21.2%) of 33 patients. In 17 of the patients (51.5%), greater than 90% but less than 100% aneurysm occlusion was achieved. Angiographic follow up (mean 11.7 months) was available in 19 patients. At follow-up angiography four (21%) of 19 aneurysms were 100% occluded and 12 (63.2%) of 19 were more than 90% but less than 100% occluded.

The mean clinical follow-up time in treated patients surviving beyond the initial treatment period is 15 months. One patient suffered major permanent morbidity from thrombosis of the basilar tip region a few hours after coil placement. One patient treated following SAH experienced further hemorrhage 6 months later. No other patient suffered direct or indirect permanent morbidity as a consequence of this method of treatment.

The authors believe that this technique is a reasonable alternative for patients who are not candidates for conventional surgical treatment or in whom such treatment has failed. This study's follow-up period is brief and greater experience with long-term follow-up study is mandatory.

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Tomoaki Terada, Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Mitsuharu Tsuura, Norihiko Komai, Charles B. Wilson and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Dural sinus thrombosis has been hypothesized as a possible cause of dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVF's). The pathogenesis and evolution from thrombosis to actual development of an AVF are still unknown. To study dural fistula formation, a surgically induced venous hypertension model in rats was created by producing an arteriovenous shunt between the carotid artery and the external jugular vein. The external jugular vein beyond the anastomosis was ligated 2 to 3 months after surgery and angiography was performed to identify any new acquired AVF's.

Forty-six male Sprague-Dawley rats, each weighing approximately 300 gm, were used for this study. In Group I, 22 rats underwent a common carotid artery anastomosis to the external jugular vein, which is the largest draining vein from the transverse sinus via the posterior facial vein, followed by proximal external jugular vein ligation. In Group II, 13 rats underwent the same surgical procedure, followed by contralateral posterior facial vein occlusion. Group III served as the control group, in which 11 rats underwent only unilateral external jugular vein occlusion with or without contralateral posterior facial vein occlusion. The shunts in Groups I and II were ligated at 2 to 3 months following surgery, and transfemoral angiography was performed immediately before and after occlusion.

New acquired AVF's had developed in three rats (13.6%) in Group I, three rats (23.1%) in Group II, and no rats (0%) in Group III. One of these newly formed fistulas was located at the dural sinus, analogous to the human dural AVF. The other five were located in the subcutaneous tissue, including the face and neck. The dural AVF in the rat was present on follow-up angiography at 1 week after the bypass occlusion. It is concluded that chronic venous hypertension of 2 to 3 months' duration, without associated venous or sinus thrombosis, can induce new AVF's affecting the dural sinuses or the subcutaneous tissue.

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Van V. Halbach, Randall T. Higashida, Christopher F. Dowd, Stanley L. Barnwell, Kenneth W. Fraser, Tony P. Smith, George P. Teitelbaum and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Endovascular obliteration of intracranial aneurysms with preservation of the parent artery (endosaccular occlusion) has been advocated for patients who fail or are excluded from surgical clipping and cannot undergo Hunterian ligation therapy. To clarify the effect that endosaccular occlusion has on the presenting neurological signs, 26 patients with aneurysms and symptoms related to mass effect who underwent this therapy were followed for a mean of 60 months. Only patients with objective neurological deficits who had not suffered a hemorrhage were included in this series. Response to therapy was classified into one of three groups: “resolved,” if the patient had complete resolution of presenting signs; “improved,” if significant and sustained improvement was recorded in the neurological examinations, and “unchanged,” if no change was observed.

Thirteen patients (50%) were classified as resolved, 11 (42.3%) as improved, and two (7.7%) as unchanged. A comparison of patients classified as resolved with those who were improved revealed that the former group had less wall calcification (30% vs. 60%) and a shorter duration of symptoms. Patients with neurological sign resolution (62%) were more likely to have totally occluded aneurysms on late follow-up arteriograms than those who had improvement (28%) or were unchanged (0%). This study suggests that endosaccular embolization therapy can improve or alleviate presenting neurological signs unrelated to hemorrhage or distal embolization in the majority of cases.

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Van V. Halbach, Randall T. Higashida, Christopher F. Dowd, Kenneth W. Fraser, Tony P. Smith, George P. Teitelbaum, Charles B. Wilson and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Sixteen patients with dissecting aneurysms or pseudoaneurysms of the vertebral artery, 12 involving the intradural vertebral artery and four occurring in the extradural segment, were treated by endovascular occlusion of the dissection site. Patients with vertebral fistulas were excluded from this study. The dissection was caused by trauma in three patients (two iatrogenic) and in the remaining 13 no obvious etiology was disclosed. Nine patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), two of whom had severe cardiac disturbances secondary to the bleed. The nontraumatic dissections occurred in seven women and six men, with a mean age on discovery of 48 years. Fifteen patients were treated with endovascular occlusion of the parent artery at or just proximal to the dissection site. One patient had occlusion of a traumatic pseudoaneurysm with preservation of the parent artery. Four patients required transluminal angioplasty because of severe vasospasm produced by the presenting hemorrhage, and all benefited from this procedure with improved arterial flow documented by transcranial Doppler ultrasonography and arteriography.

In 15 patients angiography disclosed complete cure of the dissection. One patient with a long dissection of extracranial origin extending intracranially had proximal occlusion of the dissection site. Follow-up angiography demonstrated healing of the vertebral artery dissection but persistent filling of the artery above the balloons, which underscores the need for embolic occlusion near the dissection site. No hemorrhages recurred. One patient had a second SAH at the time of therapy which was immediately controlled with balloons and coils. This patient and one other had minor neurological worsening resulting from the procedure (mild Wallenberg syndrome in one and minor ataxia in the second).

Symptomatic vertebral artery dissections involving the intradural and extradural segments can be effectively managed by endovascular techniques. Balloon test occlusion and transluminal angioplasty can be useful adjuncts in the management of this disease.

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Randall T. Higashida, Fong Y. Tsai, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Tony Smith, Kenneth Fraser and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Transluminal angioplasty for hemodynamically significant stenosis (> 70%) involving the posterior cerebral circulation is now being performed by the authors in selected cases. A total of 42 lesions affecting the vertebral or basilar artery have been successfully treated by percutaneous transluminal angioplasty techniques in 41 patients. The lesions involved the proximal vertebral artery in 34 cases, the distal vertebral artery in five, and the basilar artery in three. Patients were examined clinically at 1 to 3 and 6 to 12 months after angioplasty. Three (7.1%) permanent complications occurred, consisting of stroke in two cases and vessel rupture in one. There were four (9.5%) transient complications (< 30 minutes): two cases of vessel spasm and two of cerebral ischemia. Clinical follow-up examination demonstrated improvement of symptoms in 39 cases (92.9%). Radiographic follow-up studies demonstrated three cases (7.1 %) of restenosis involving the proximal vertebral artery; two were treated by repeat angioplasty without complication, and the third is being followed clinically while the patient remains asymptomatic.

In patients with significant atherosclerotic stenosis involving the vertebral or basilar artery territories, transluminal angioplasty may be of significant benefit in alleviating symptoms and improving blood flow to the posterior cerebral circulation.

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Isabelle M. Germano, Richard L. Davis, Charles B. Wilson and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Embolization with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is an accepted method of rendering complex arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) more amenable to surgery, but its effects on human vascular tissues have not been adequately documented. The authors reviewed the histopathology of 66 intracranial AVM's resected 1 to 76 days after embolization with PVA. The mean age of the patients was 36 years, and their AVM's were located in the cerebral hemispheres (92%), the cerebellum (6%), or the corpus callosum (2%). In 79% of cases, at least one vessel contained PVA particles; in most cases, the vessel was filled with sharp, angular PVA particles in a serpiginous pattern. Polyvinyl alcohol particles indented the endothelium in 69% of cases but were rarely found subendothelially. Clotted blood and fibroblasts were present among the particles, and abundant intraluminal mononuclear and polymorphonuclear inflammatory cells were found in all vessels containing PVA particles. Foreign-body giant cells appeared 2 to 14 days after embolization in the majority of cases. Patchy mural angionecrosis and necrotizing vasculitis were found in 39% of the cases. Recanalized lumina were seen in 18% of PVA-embolized vessels. Foreign materials resembling cotton fibers and other particulate substances, which were probably contaminants of the contrast solution or the embolic material, were found in 65% of the cases. These findings suggest a specific chain of events in the interaction between PVA and vessel wall components and may explain some important sequelae of embolization therapy.

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Griffith R. Harsh, Charles B. Wilson, Grant B. Hieshima and William P. Dillon

✓ A patient with trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm was evaluated using multiplanar magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with gadolinium enhancement. Preoperative images demonstrated massively ectatic vertebral and basilar arteries and their distortion of the brain stem and the trigeminal and facial nerves. Surgical manipulation included selective trigeminal rhizotomy, cushioning of the residual nerve at the point of maximal distortion by the underlying basilar artery, and microvascular decompression of the seventh nerve from the anterior inferior cerebellar artery which was being pushed dorsomedially by the vertebral artery. Postoperatively, the patient had neither trigeminal neuralgia nor facial spasm. Gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging not only excludes other etiologies such as tumor or arteriovenous malformation, but also demonstrates cranial nerve compression by ectatic vertebral and basilar arteries. The choice of preoperative imaging modality is discussed and the literature concerning the etiology of tic convulsif is reviewed.