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Masaru Yamada, Takao Kitahara, Akira Kurata, Kiyotaka Fujii, and Yoshio Miyasaka

Object. Intracranial vertebral artery (VA) dissection with subarachnoid hemorrhage is notorious for frequent rebleeding and a poor prognosis. Nevertheless, some patients survive with a good final outcome. The factors associated with the prognosis of this disease are not fully understood and appropriate treatment strategies continue to be debated. The authors retrospectively evaluated the clinical features of conservatively treated patients to elucidate the relationship between the clinical and angiographic characteristics of the disease and final outcomes.

Methods. This study includes 24 patients who were treated by conservative methods between 1990 and 2000. Conservative treatment was chosen because of delayed diagnosis, poor clinical condition, or anatomical features such as bilateral lesions and contralateral VA hypoplasia.

Of nine patients with an admission Hunt and Kosnik Grade I or II, eight had good outcomes (mean follow-up period 8 years and 4 months). All 15 patients with Grade III, IV, or V died and in 10 of these the cause of death was rebleeding. Among the 24 patients, 14 suffered a total of 35 rebleeding episodes; in 10 (71.4%) of these 14 patients rebleeding occurred within 6 hours and in 13 (93%) within 24 hours. Compared with the survivors, there was a female preponderance (0.022) among patients who died. These patients also had significantly shorter intervals between onset and hospital admission (p = 0.0067), a higher admission Hunt and Kosnik grade (p = 0.0001), a higher incidence of prehospitalization (p = 0.0296) and postadmission (p = 0.0029) rebleeding episodes, and a higher incidence of angiographically confirmed pearl-and-string structure of the lesion (p = 0.0049).

Conclusions. In our series of preselected patients, poor admission neurological grade, rebleeding episode(s), and lesions with a pearl-and-string structure were predictive of poor outcomes. Our findings indicate that patients with these characteristics may be candidates for aggressive attempts to prevent rebleeding during the acute stage. Patients without these characteristics may be good candidates for conservative treatment, especially those who survive the acute phase without rebleeding.

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Yoshio Miyasaka, Kenzoh Yada, Takashi Ohwada, Takao Kitahara, Akira Kurata, and Katsumi Irikura

✓ The authors studied the venous drainage system and its impairment in relation to risk of hemorrhage in 108 cases of supratentorial arteriovenous malformation (AVM). The proportion of AVM's undergoing hemorrhage (hemorrhagic rate) was calculated in relation to: 1) the number of draining veins (one, two, or three or more); 2) the presence or absence of impairment in venous drainage (severe stenosis or occlusion in draining veins); and 3) the location of draining veins (deep venous drainage alone, superficial venous drainage alone, or a combination of the two). Statistical analysis demonstrated that AVM's with the following characteristics had a high risk of hemorrhage: 1) one draining vein (hemorrhagic rate 89% in 54 patients); 2) severely impaired venous drainage (hemorrhagic rate 94% in 18 patients); and 3) deep venous drainage alone (hemorrhagic rate 94% in 32 patients).

The present study suggests that the venous drainage system of AVM's is significantly associated with the risk of hemorrhage of these lesions. Therefore, careful preoperative angiographic evaluation of the venous drainage system is mandatory for decision making in the management of patients with AVM's.

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Yoshio Miyasaka, Kenzoh Yada, Takashi Ohwada, Takao Kitahara, Masataka Endoh, Motoyoshi Saito, Akira Kurata, and Hirotoshi Ohtaka

✓ Five cases of retrograde thrombosis of former feeding arteries after removal of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) are reported. The clinical features of these patients were studied and compared to those of 71 patients without this complication. The following characteristics were found to correlate with retrograde thrombosis: 1) advancing age of the patient; 2) large AVM size; and 3) markedly dilated and elongated feeders. It is suggested that the slow flow in the former feeding arteries that was observed immediately after AVM removal and pathological changes in these vessels due to long-standing hemodynamic stresses contributed to the development of retrograde thrombosis. Neurological manifestations related to retrograde thrombosis were noted in three of the five cases. Although infrequent, this complication should be considered as a serious possibility following removal of an AVM.