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Charles J. Prestigiacomo, Matthew J. Gounis, L. Fernando Gonzalez and Juhana Frösen

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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Nicholas C. Bambakidis and Robert F. Spetzler

Posterior circulation lesions constitute approximately 10% of all intracranial aneurysms. Their distribution includes the basilar artery (BA) bifurcation, superior cerebellar artery, posterior inferior cerebellar artery, and anterior inferior cerebellar artery. The specific features of a patient's aneurysm and superb anatomical knowledge help the surgeon to choose the most appropriate approach and to tailor it to the patient's situation. The main principle that must be applied is maximization of bone resection. This allows the surgeon to work within a wider corridor, which facilitates the use of surgical instruments and minimizes retraction of the brain.

The management of aneurysms within the posterior circulation requires expertise in skull base and vascular surgery. Endovascular treatments have become increasingly important, but in this paper the authors focus on the surgical management of these difficult aneurysms. The paper is divided into three parts: the first section is a brief review of the anatomy of the BA; the second part is a review of the techniques associated with the management of posterior fossa aneurysms; and in the third section the authors describe the different approaches, their nuances and indications based on the location of the aneurysm, and its relationship to the surrounding bone (especially the clivus, dorsum sellae, and the free edge of the petrous apex).

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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Nohra Chalouhi, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, Pascal Jabbour, Aaron S. Dumont and Robert H. Rosenwasser

Object

Multiple approaches have been used to treat carotid-cavernous fistulas (CCFs). The transvenous approach has become a popular and effective route. Onyx is a valuable tool in today's endovascular armamentarium. The authors describe the use of a balloon-assisted technique in the treatment of CCFs with Onyx and assess its feasibility, utility, and safety.

Methods

The authors searched their prospectively maintained database for CCFs embolized using Onyx with the assistance of a compliant balloon placed in the internal carotid artery (ICA).

Results

Five patients were treated between July 2009 and July 2011 at the authors' institution. A balloon helped to identify the fistulous point, served as a buttress for coils, protected from inadvertent arterial embolizations, and prevented Onyx and coils from obscuring the ICA during the course of embolization. No balloon-related complications were noted in any of the 5 cases. All 5 fistulas were completely obliterated at the end of the procedure. Four patients had available clinical follow-ups, and all 4 showed reversal of nerve palsies.

Conclusions

Balloon-assisted Onyx embolization of CCFs offers a powerful combination that prevents inadvertent migration of the embolic material into the arterial system, facilitates visualization of the ICA, and serves as a buttress for coils deployed in the cavernous sinus through the fistulous point. Despite adding another layer of technical complexity, an intraarterial balloon can provide valuable assistance in the treatment of CCFs.

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Gregory P. Lekovic, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Vini G. Khurana and Robert F. Spetzler

✓Although cavernous malformations (CMs) are an important cause of intracranial hemorrhage, the natural history of these lesions is controversial. Both retrospective and prospective studies undertaken to define risk factors for hemorrhage from CMs have consistently identified the location of a lesion as a factor that has a significant impact on the rate of rupture, and brainstem CMs consistently have a higher rate of symptomatic hemorrhage than those at other locations. The mechanism underlying this disparity in rupture rates, however, remains obscure. Most authors attribute the difference, at least partially, to the sensitivity of the brainstem to hemorrhage. Regardless, the specific factors that cause a given CM to rupture are unknown.

The authors report their first encounter with an intraoperative rupture of a CM in the brainstem. This case underscores the risks encountered during the surgical approach to brainstem CMs and may provide insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the rupture of these lesions.

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Mahsa Dabagh, Priya Nair, John Gounley, David Frakes, L. Fernando Gonzalez and Amanda Randles

The growth of cerebral aneurysms is linked to local hemodynamic conditions, but the driving mechanisms of the growth are poorly understood. The goal of this study was to examine the association between intraaneurysmal hemodynamic features and areas of aneurysm growth, to present the key hemodynamic parameters essential for an accurate prediction of the growth, and to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Patient-specific images of a growing cerebral aneurysm in 3 different growth stages acquired over a period of 40 months were segmented and reconstructed. A unique aspect of this patient-specific case study was that while one side of the aneurysm stayed stable, the other side continued to grow. This unique case enabled the authors to examine their aims in the same patient with parent and daughter arteries under the same inlet flow conditions. Pulsatile flow in the aneurysm models was simulated using computational fluid dynamics and was validated with in vitro experiments using particle image velocimetry measurements. The authors’ detailed analysis of intrasaccular hemodynamics linked the growing regions of aneurysms to flow instabilities and complex vortex structures. Extremely low velocities were observed at or around the center of the unstable vortex structure, which matched well with the growing regions of the studied cerebral aneurysm. Furthermore, the authors observed that the aneurysm wall regions with a growth greater than 0.5 mm coincided with wall regions of lower (< 0.5 Pa) time-averaged wall shear stress (TAWSS), lower instantaneous (< 0.5 Pa) wall shear stress (WSS), and high (> 0.1) oscillatory shear index (OSI). To determine which set of parameters can best identify growing and nongrowing aneurysms, the authors performed statistical analysis for consecutive stages of the growing CA. The results demonstrated that the combination of TAWSS and the distance from the center of the vortical structure has the highest sensitivity and positive predictive value, and relatively high specificity and negative predictive value. These findings suggest that an unstable, recirculating flow structure within the aneurysm sac created in the region adjacent to the aneurysm wall with low TAWSS may be introduced as an accurate criterion to explain the hemodynamic conditions predisposing the aneurysm to growth. The authors’ findings are based on one patient’s data set, but the study lays out the justification for future large-scale verification. The authors’ findings can assist clinicians in differentiating stable and growing aneurysms during preinterventional planning.

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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Dixie L. Patterson, Gregory P. Lekovic, Peter Nakaji and Robert F. Spetzler

Object

The radial artery is a common conduit used for high-flow bypasses. Until now the radial artery has been harvested using a long incision in the forearm that follows the course of the artery. The authors present an endoscopic technique that has been used during coronary bypass surgery but is not yet widespread in the neurosurgical arena.

Methods

From October 2006 to October 2007, the authors used the radial artery as a graft in 6 patients during the treatment of complex cerebral aneurysms. The artery was harvested via an endoscopic technique.

The radial artery was exposed distally at the wrist. Using the VasoView vessel harvesting system, the endoscope was inserted into the arm. The radial artery was dissected from its surrounding tissues endoscopically. With direct current energy via the HemoPro device, the side branches were coagulated and cut. The artery was transected at the wrist, then retrieved through a counterincision at the proximal forearm.

Results

There were no neurological or bleeding complications in the hand or forearm.

Conclusions

Endoscopic harvesting of the radial artery is feasible, faster, and produces a more aesthetically pleasing result than standard open harvesting. The learning curve associated with the endoscope can be overcome by practice on cadavers and by collaboration with a cardiac surgical team.

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Nohra Chalouhi, Aaron S. Dumont, Ciro Randazzo, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Robert Rosenwasser and Pascal Jabbour

With the widespread use of brain imaging studies, neurosurgeons have seen a marked increase in the number of incidental intracranial lesions, including vascular abnormalities. Specifically, the detection of incidentally discovered aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, cavernous angiomas, developmental venous anomalies, and capillary telangiectasias has increased. The best management strategy for most of these lesions is controversial. Treatment options include observation, open surgery, endovascular procedures, and radiosurgery. Multiple factors should be taken into account when discussing treatment indications, including the natural history of the disease and the risk of the treatment. In this article, the authors focus on the natural history of these lesions and the risk of the treatment, and they give recommendations regarding the most appropriate management strategy based on the current evidence in the literature and their experience with intracranial vascular abnormalities.

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Nohra Chalouhi, Rohan Chitale, Pascal Jabbour, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, Aaron S. Dumont, Robert Rosenwasser and L. Fernando Gonzalez

Given that relatives of patients with intracranial aneurysms (IAs) or subarachnoid hemorrhage have a greater risk of harboring an aneurysm, family screening has become a common practice in neurosurgery. Unclear data exist regarding who should be screened and at what age and interval screening should occur. Multiple factors including the natural history of IAs, the risk of treatment, the cost of screening, and the psychosocial impact of finding an aneurysm should be taken into account when family screening is considered. In this paper, the authors review the current literature regarding risk factors and natural history of sporadic and familial aneurysms. Based on these data the authors assess current recommendations for screening and propose their own recommendations.

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Stephen J. Monteith, Asterios Tsimpas, Aaron S. Dumont, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Robert H. Rosenwasser and Pascal Jabbour

Object

Despite advances in surgical and endovascular techniques, fusiform aneurysms remain a therapeutic challenge. Introduction of flow-diverting stents has revolutionized the treatment of aneurysms with wide necks and of complex morphology. The authors report their experience with the endovascular treatment of fusiform aneurysms using the Pipeline Embolization Device.

Methods

A retrospective review of 146 patients with cerebral aneurysms treated with the Pipeline Embolization Device between June 2011 and January 2013 was performed. Twenty-four patients were identified as having fusiform aneurysms. Twenty-four aneurysms in these 24 patients were treated. The mean patient age was 59 years. There were 9 men and 15 women. Angiographic and clinical data (including the modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score) were recorded at the time of treatment and at follow-up. The aneurysms were located in the internal carotid artery in 8 patients (33.3%), middle cerebral artery in 8 patients (33.3%), anterior cerebral artery in 1 patient (4%), and vertebrobasilar circulation in 7 patients (29%). The aneurysms were smaller than 10 mm in 3 patients, 10–25 mm in 16 patients, and larger than 25 mm in 5 patients. The mean largest dimension diameter was 18 mm.

Results

Stent deployment was successful in all cases. The minor procedural morbidity was 4% (1 case). Morbidity and mortality related to aneurysm treatment were 4.2% and 4.2%, respectively. The mean mRS scores preoperatively and at clinical follow-up (median 6.0 months, mean 6.9 months) were 0.71 and 1.2, respectively (91.7% presented with an mRS score of 2 or better, and 79.2% had an mRS score of 2 or better at the 6.0-month follow-up). At clinical follow-up, 82.6% of patients were stable or had improved, 13.0% worsened, and 4.2% had died. Twenty-two (91.7%) of 24 patients had follow-up angiography available (mean follow-up time 6.3 months); 59% had excellent angiographic results (> 95% or complete occlusion), 31.8% had complete aneurysm occlusion, 27.3% had greater than 95% aneurysm occlusion, 18.2% had a moderate decrease in size (50%–95%), 4.5% had a minimal decrease in size (< 50%), 13.6% had not changed, and 4.5% had an increase in size.

Conclusions

This series demonstrates that endovascular treatment of fusiform cerebral aneurysms with flow diversion was a safe and effective treatment. Procedural complications were low. Long-term morbidity and mortality rates were acceptable given the complex nature of these lesions.

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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Gregory P. Lekovic, Jennifer Eschbacher, Stephen Coons, Randall W. Porter and Robert F. Spetzler

✓Cavernous hemangiomas that occur within the cavernous sinus (CS) are different from cerebral cavernous malformations (CMs) clinically, on imaging studies, and in their response to treatment. Moreover, CMs are true vascular malformations, whereas hemangiomas are benign vascular tumors. Because of these differences, the authors suggest that these two entities be analyzed and grouped separately. Unfortunately, despite these differences, much confusion exists in the literature as to the nature, behavior, and classification of these two distinct lesions. This confusion is exacerbated by subtle histological differences and the inconsistent use of nomenclature. The authors use the term “cavernous malformation” to refer to intraaxial lesions only; they prefer to use the term “cavernous sinus hemangioma” to refer to extraaxial, intradural hemangiomas of the CS.