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Carmelo Anile, Pasquale De Bonis, Alessio Albanese, Alessandro Di Chirico, Annunziato Mangiola, Gianpaolo Petrella and Pietro Santini

Object

The ability to predict outcome after shunt placement in patients with idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) represents a challenge. To date, no single diagnostic tool or combination of tools has proved capable of reliably predicting whether the condition of a patient with suspected NPH will improve after a shunting procedure. In this paper, the authors report their experience with 120 patients with the goal of identifying CSF hydrodynamics criteria capable of selecting patients with idiopathic NPH. Specifically, they focused on the comparison between CSF-outflow resistance (R-out) and intracranial elastance (IE).

Methods

Between January 1977 and December 2005, 120 patients in whom idiopathic NPH had been diagnosed (on the basis of clinical findings and imaging) underwent CSF hydrodynamics evaluation based on an intraventricular infusion test. Ninety-six patients underwent CSF shunt placement: 32 between 1977 and 1989 (Group I) on the basis of purely clinical and radiological criteria; 44 between 1990 and 2002 (Group II) on the basis of the same criteria as Group I and because they had an IE slope > 0.25; and 20 between 2003 and 2005 (Group III) on the basis of the same criteria as Group II but with an IE slope ≥ 0.30. Outcomes were evaluated by means of both Stein-Langfitt and Larsson scores. Patients' conditions were considered improved when there was a stable decrease (at 6- and 12-month follow-up) of at least 1 point in the Stein-Langfitt score and 2 points in the Larsson score.

Results

Group I: while no statistically significant difference in mean R-out value between improved and unimproved cases was observed, a clear-cut IE slope value of 0.25 differentiated very sharply between unimproved and improved cases. Group II: R-out values in the 2 unimproved cases were 20 and 47 mm Hg/ml/min, respectively. The mean IE slope in the improved cases was 0.56 (range 0.30–1.4), while the IE slopes in the 2 unimproved cases were 0.26 and 0.27. Group III: the mean IE slope was 0.51 (range 0.31–0.7). The conditions of all patients improved after shunting. A significant reduction of the Evans ratio was observed in 34 (40.5%) of the 84 improved cases and in none of the unimproved cases.

Conclusions

Our strategy based on the analysis of CSF pulse pressure parameters seems to have a great accuracy in predicting surgical outcome in clinical practice.

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Nicola Montano, Francesco Doglietto, Alessandro Pedicelli, Alessio Albanese, Liverana Lauretti, Roberto Pallini, Libero Lauriola, Eduardo Fernandez and Giulio Maira

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Alessio Albanese, Antonio Tuttolomondo, Carmelo Anile, Giovanni Sabatino, Angelo Pompucci, Antonio Pinto, Guiseppe Licata and Annunziato Mangiola

✓ Chronic subdural hematomas (SDHs) generally occur in elderly patients. Its pathogenesis is usually related to head trauma with tearing and rupture of the bridging veins, although in some cases a history of trauma is not recognizable. There are many reports regarding the association between spontaneous chronic SDHs and an alteration in coagulative parameters. A coagulative disorder should be suspected when an unexplained hemorrhage occurs, especially in a young patient. The authors report on three young men with a deficiency in coagulation factor XIII (FXIII) who underwent surgery for chronic SDHs. The role of FXIII in the pathogenesis of chronic SDH is emphasized. In patients with unexplained chronic SDH all coagulation parameters and factors should be screened to identify an eventual coagulative disorder.

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Luigi Pentimalli, Andrea Modesti, Andrea Vignati, Enrico Marchese, Alessio Albanese, Federico Di Rocco, Anna Coletti, Paolo Di Nardo, Cristina Fantini, Barbara Tirpakova and Giulio Maira

Object. Mechanisms involved in the rupture of intracranial aneurysms remain unclear, and the literature on apoptosis in these lesions is extremely limited. The hypothesis that apoptosis may reduce aneurysm wall resistance, thus contributing to its rupture, warrants investigation. The authors in this study focused on the comparative evaluation of apoptosis in ruptured and unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Peripheral arteries in patients harboring the aneurysms and in a group of controls were also analyzed.

Methods. Between September 1999 and February 2002, specimens from 27 intracranial aneurysms were studied. In 13 of these patients apoptosis was also evaluated in specimens of the middle meningeal artery (MMA) and the superficial temporal artery (STA). The terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase—mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling technique was used to study apoptosis via optical microscopy; electron microscopy evaluation was performed as well. Apoptotic cell levels were related to patient age and sex, aneurysm volume and shape, and surgical timing.

Significant differences in apoptosis were observed when comparing ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. High levels of apoptosis were found in 88% of ruptured aneurysms and in only 10% of unruptured lesions (p < 0.001). Elevated apoptosis levels were also detected in all MMA and STA specimens obtained in patients harboring ruptured aneurysms, whereas absent or very low apoptosis levels were observed in MMA and STA specimens from patients with unruptured aneurysms. A significant correlation between aneurysm shape and apoptosis was found.

Conclusions. In this series, aneurysm rupture appeared to be more related to elevated apoptosis levels than to the volume of the aneurysm sac. Data in this study could open the field to investigations clarifying the causes of aneurysm enlargement and rupture.

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Giulio Maira, Carmelo Anile, Alessio Albanese, Daniel Cabezas, Flaminia Pardi and Andrea Vignati

Object. The optimal approach for the surgical treatment of craniopharyngiomas is still debated. In all cases involving the sella turcica, the authors have exclusively used transsphenoidal surgery (TSS), assuming that this approach is less traumatic than an intracranial one. Moreover, TSS was also performed in some cases of purely suprasellar craniopharyngiomas. In this study the surgical indications and the results obtained in all patients who had undergone TSS were analyzed.

Methods. In a series of 92 patients who underwent surgery for craniopharyngiomas, TSS was the first choice of approach in 57 cases (62%) consisting of 29 female and 28 male patients with ages ranging from 12 to 79 years (mean 35 years). The follow-up duration ranged from 2 to 20 years. A standard transsphenoidal approach was used in patients with an exclusively intrasellar (11 patients) or an intrasellar and suprasellar tumor (37 patients); in nine cases of tumors located exclusively above the sella turcica, a transsphenoidal presellar approach (seven patients) or a transsellar—transdiaphragmatic approach (two patients) was used. Total removal was performed in 36 patients (63%). All patients had good clinical results. Postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leakage occurred in 10 cases, but only one case required a surgical repair of the sella. Two patients died of late complications (3.5%). There were eight cases (14%) of tumor regrowth.

Conclusions. The authors assert that, when used in appropriately located craniopharyngiomas and by neurosurgeons with extensive experience in pituitary surgery, TSS offers excellent results with minor risks.