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  • Author or Editor: Keith M. Rich x
  • Journal of Neurosurgery x
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Maria Mamalui-Hunter, Thomas Jiang, Keith M. Rich, Colin P. Derdeyn and Robert E. Drzymala

Object

The effectiveness of Gamma Knife stereotactic surgery to obliterate brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) may be diminished by the preoperative adjunctive use of endovascular liquid embolic agents. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine if commercially available liquid embolic agents reduce the radiation dose to the target because of attenuation of the 60Co beam.

Methods

The apparent linear attenuation coefficients for 120- to 140-keV radiographs in embolized regions were retrieved from CT scans for several patients with AVMs who had undergone embolization procedures with liquid embolic agents to reduce nidal volumes. Based on these coefficients and a virtual model of Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) with basic ray tracing, the authors obtained the path lengths and densities of the embolized regions. The attenuation of 60Co beams was then calculated for various sizes and positions of embolized AVM regions and for the number of beams used for treatment. Published experiments for several high-atomic-number materials were used to estimate the effective 60Co beam attenuation coefficients for the N-butyl cyanoacrylate (NBCA, suspended in ethiodized oil) and ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH, with suspended micronized tantalum powder, Onyx) used in the AVM embolizations. Dose reductions during GKS were calculated for a theoretical model based on the CT-documented apparent linear attenuation coefficients and for the 60Co energy attenuation coefficient. Dose measurements were obtained in a phantom study with EVOH for comparison with the estimates generated from the two attenuation coefficients.

Results

Based on CT (keV) apparent attenuation coefficients, the authors' theoretical model predicted that the cumulative effect of either of the embolic agents decreased the number of kilovoltage photons in an embolized nidus by −8% to −15% because of the increased atomic number and density of NBCA and Onyx. However, in using the effective attenuation coefficient for the 60Co energies as is used in GKS, the authors' theoretical model yielded only a 0.2% dose reduction per beam and a < 0.01%–0.2% dose reduction in total. These theoretical results were validated by measurements in a head phantom containing Onyx.

Conclusions

Dose reduction due to attenuation of the 60Co beam by the AVM embolization material was negligible for both NBCA and EVOH because of the high-energy 60Co beam.

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Spiros L. Blackburn, William W. Ashley Jr., Keith M. Rich, Joseph R. Simpson, Robert E. Drzymala, Wilson Z. Ray, Christopher J. Moran, DeWitte T. Cross III, Michael R. Chicoine, Ralph G. Dacey Jr., Colin P. Derdeyn and Gregory J. Zipfel

Object

Large cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are often not amenable to direct resection or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) treatment. An alternative treatment strategy is staged endovascular embolization followed by SRS (Embo/SRS). The object of this study was to examine the experience at Washington University in St. Louis with Embo/SRS for large AVMs and review the results in earlier case series.

Methods

Twenty-one cases involving patients with large AVMs treated with Embo/SRS between 1994 and 2006 were retrospectively evaluated. The AVM size (before and after embolization), procedural complications, radiological outcome, and neurological outcome were examined. Radiological success was defined as AVM obliteration as demonstrated by catheter angiography, CT angiography, or MR angiography. Radiological failure was defined as residual AVM as demonstrated by catheter angiography, CT angiography, or MR angiography performed at least 3 years after SRS.

Results

The maximum diameter of all AVMs in this series was > 3 cm (mean 4.2 cm); 12 (57%) were Spetzler-Martin Grade IV or V. Clinical follow-up was available in 20 of 21 cases; radiological follow-up was available in 19 of 21 cases (mean duration of follow-up 3.6 years). Forty-three embolization procedures were performed; 8 embolization-related complications occurred, leading to transient neurological deficits in 5 patients (24%), minor permanent neurological deficits in 3 patients (14%), and major permanent neurological deficits in none (0%). Twenty-one SRS procedures were performed; 1 radiation-induced complication occurred (5%), leading to a permanent minor neurological deficit. Of the 20 patients with clinical follow-up, none experienced cerebral hemorrhage. In the 19 patients with radiological follow-up, AVM obliteration was confirmed by catheter angiography in 13, MR angiography in 2, and CT angiography in 1. Residual nidus was found in 3 patients. In patients with follow-up catheter angiography, the AVM obliteration rate was 81% (13 of 16 cases).

Conclusions

Staged endovascular embolization followed by SRS provides an effective means of treating large AVMs not amenable to standard surgical or SRS treatment. The outcomes and complication rates reported in this series compare favorably to the results of other reported therapeutic strategies for this very challenging patient population.