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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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Fabio Settecase, Andrew D. Nicholson, Matthew R. Amans, Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach, Daniel L. Cooke, Christopher F. Dowd and Steven W. Hetts

A 13-year-old boy with meningiomatosis, McCune-Albright syndrome, and gray platelet syndrome presented with an enlarging “lump” on his right forehead. A head CT scan revealed a polyostotic fibrous dysplasia involving the entire skull. A 3.4-cm right frontal osseous cavity and an overlying right forehead subcutaneous soft-tissue mass were seen, measuring 5.2 cm in diameter and 1.6 cm thick. Ultrasound of the cavity and overlying mass showed swirling of blood and an arterialized waveform. MRI revealed an en plaque meningioma underlying the cavity. An intraosseous pseudoaneurysm fed by 3 distal anterior division branches of the right middle meningeal artery (MMA) with contrast extravasation was found on angiography. Two MMA feeders were embolized with Onyx, with anterograde filling of the intraosseous cavity with Onyx. A small pocket of residual intracavity contrast filling postembolization from a smaller third MMA feeder eventually thrombosed and the forehead lump regressed.

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Randall T. Higashida, Wade Smith, Daryl Gress, Ross Urwin, Christopher F. Dowd, Peter A. Balousek and Van V. Halbach

✓ The authors demonstrate the technical feasibility of using intravascular stents in conjunction with electrolytically detachable coils (Guglielmi detachable coils [GDCs]) for treatment of fusiform, broad-based, acutely ruptured intracranial aneurysms and review the literature on endovascular approaches to ruptured aneurysms and cerebral stent placement. A 77-year-old man presented with an acute subarachnoid hemorrhage of the posterior fossa. A fusiform aneurysm with a broad-based neck measuring 12 mm and involving the distal vertebral artery (VA) and proximal third of the basilar artery (BA) was demonstrated on cerebral angiography. The aneurysm was judged to be inoperable. Six days later a repeated hemorrhage occurred. A 15-mm-long intravascular stent was placed across the base of the aneurysm in the BA and expanded to 4 mm to act as a bridging scaffold to create a neck. A microcatheter was then guided through the interstices of the stent into the body and dome of the aneurysm, and GDCs were deposited for occlusion.

The arteriogram obtained after stent placement demonstrated occlusion of the main dome and body of the aneurysm. The coils were stably positioned and held in place by the stent across the distal VA and BA fusiform aneurysm. Excellent blood flow to the distal BA and posterior cerebral artery was maintained through the stent. There were no new brainstem ischemic events attributable to the procedure. No rebleeding from the aneurysm had occurred by the 10.5-month follow-up evaluation, and the patient has experienced significant neurological improvement.

Certain types of intracranial fusiform aneurysms may now be treated by combining intravascular stent and GDC placement for aneurysm occlusion via an endovascular approach. This is the first known clinical application of this novel approach in a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.

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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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Stanley L. Barnwell, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Randall T. Higashida, Grant B. Hieshima and Charles B. Wilson

✓ Dural arteriovenous (AV) fistulas are thought to be acquired lesions that form in an area of thrombosis within a sinus. If the sinus remains completely thrombosed, venous drainage from these lesions occurs through cortical veins, or, if the sinus is open, venous drainage is usually into the involved sinus. Among 105 patients with dural A V fistulas evaluated over the the past 5 years, seven had a unique type of dural AV fistula in the superior sagittal, transverse, or straight sinus in which only cortical venous drainage occurred despite a patent involved sinus; the fistula was located within the wall of a patent dural sinus, but outflow was not into the involved sinus. This variant of dural AV fistulas puts the patient at serious risk for hemorrhage or neurological dysfunction caused by venous hypertension. Three patients presented with hemorrhage, one with progressive neurological dysfunction, one with seizures, and two with bruit and headaches. A combination of surgical and endovascular techniques was used to close the fistula while preserving flow through the sinus.

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Stanley L. Barnwell, Christopher F. Dowd, Richard L. Davis, Michael S. B. Edwards, Philip H. Gutin and Charles B. Wilson

✓ The cases of seven patients with intramedullary, cryptic vascular malformations of the spinal cord are reported. In all patients, the clinical course was progressive; a Brown-Séquard syndrome was the most common presenting symptom complex. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed in all patients. The pattern seen most often was a focus of high signal (on both T1- and T2-weighted MR images) surrounded by a larger zone of low signal (best seen on T2-weighted images), and was remarkably similar for all patients. Six patients underwent surgical exploration; removal of the lesions halted the progression of symptoms in five patients, and one patient had worsened sensory function after surgery. Motor function did not decrease postoperatively in any patient. The one patient who refused surgery has continued to decline neurologically. Histopathological examination of surgical specimens showed a cavernous malformation in one patient, a venous malformation in one, venous varices in two, and organizing hematomas in two; these findings are markedly different from those in previously reported cases of cryptic vascular malformations.

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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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Adel M. Malek, Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Constantine C. Phatouros, Todd E. Lempert, Philip M. Meyers, Wade S. Smith and Ronald Stoney

✓ Domestic violence leading to strangulation by an abusive spouse can cause carotid artery dissection. This phenomenon is rare and has been described in only three previous instances. The authors present their management strategies in three additional cases.

Three young women aged 24 to 43 years were victims of manual strangulation committed by their spouses 3 months to 1 year before presentation. Two of the patients suffered delayed cerebral infarctions before presentation and angiography demonstrated focal, mirror-image severe residual stenoses in the high-cervical internal carotid artery (ICA), which were characteristic of a healed chronic dissection; there was no evidence of fibromuscular dysplasia. One of these patients underwent unilateral percutaneous angioplasty with stent placement, and the other underwent bilateral percutaneous angioplasty. Both patients have recovered from their strokes and remain clinically stable at 8 and 20 months posttreatment, respectively. The third patient presented with bilateral ischemic frontal watershed infarctions resulting from an occluded left ICA and a severely narrowed right ICA. Given the extent of the established infarctions, this case was managed with a long-term regimen of anticoagulation medications, and the patient remains neurologically impaired.

These cases illustrate the susceptibility of the manually compressed ICA to traumatic injury as a result of domestic violence. They identify bilateral symmetrical ICA dissection as a consistent finding and the real danger of delayed stroke as a consequence of strangulation. Endovascular therapy in which percutaneous angioplasty and/or stent placement are used can be useful in treating residual focal stenoses to improve cerebral perfusion and to lower the risk of embolic or ischemic stroke.

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Grace F. Donzelli, Jeffrey Nelson, David McCoy, Charles E. McCulloch, Steven W. Hetts, Matthew R. Amans, Christopher F. Dowd, Van V. Halbach, Randall T. Higashida, Michael T. Lawton, Helen Kim and Daniel L. Cooke

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative embolization of brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) is performed to facilitate resection, although its impact on surgical performance has not been clearly defined. The authors tested for associations between embolization and surgical performance metrics.

METHODS

The authors analyzed AVM cases resected by one neurosurgeon from 2006 to 2017. They tested whether cases with and without embolization differed from one another with respect to patient and AVM characteristics using t-tests for continuous variables and Fisher’s exact tests for categorical variables. They used simple and multivariable regression models to test whether surgical outcomes (blood loss, resection time, surgical clip usage, and modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score) were associated with embolization. Additional regression analyses integrated the peak arterial afferent contrast normalized for the size of the region of interest (Cmax/ROI) into models as an additional predictor.

RESULTS

The authors included 319 patients, of whom 151 (47%) had preoperative embolization. Embolized AVMs tended to be larger (38% with diameter > 3 cm vs 19%, p = 0.001), less likely to have hemorrhaged (48% vs 63%, p = 0.013), or be diffuse (19% vs 29%, p = 0.045). Embolized AVMs were more likely to have both superficial and deep venous drainage and less likely to have exclusively deep drainage (32% vs 17% and 12% vs 23%, respectively; p = 0.002). In multivariable analysis, embolization was not a significant predictor of blood loss or mRS score changes, but did predict longer operating times (+29 minutes, 95% CI 2–56 minutes; p = 0.034) and increased clip usage (OR 2.61, 95% CI 1.45–4.71; p = 0.001). Cmax/ROI was not a significant predictor, although cases with large Cmax/ROI tended to have longer procedure times (+25 minutes per doubling of Cmax/ROI, 95% CI 0–50 minutes; p = 0.051).

CONCLUSIONS

In this series, preoperative embolization was associated with longer median resection times and had no association with intraoperative blood loss or mRS score changes.

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Zachary A. Seymour, Penny K. Sneed, Nalin Gupta, Michael T. Lawton, Annette M. Molinaro, William Young, Christopher F. Dowd, Van V. Halbach, Randall T. Higashida and Michael W. McDermott

OBJECT

Large arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) remain difficult to treat, and ideal treatment parameters for volume-staged stereotactic radiosurgery (VS-SRS) are still unknown. The object of this study was to compare VS-SRS treatment outcomes for AVMs larger than 10 ml during 2 eras; Era 1 was 1992-March 2004, and Era 2 was May 2004–2008. In Era 2 the authors prospectively decreased the AVM treatment volume, increased the radiation dose per stage, and shortened the interval between stages.

METHODS

All cases of VS-SRS treatment for AVM performed at a single institution were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS

Of 69 patients intended for VS-SRS, 63 completed all stages. The median patient age at the first stage of VS-SRS was 34 years (range 9–68 years). The median modified radiosurgery-based AVM score (mRBAS), total AVM volume, and volume per stage in Era 1 versus Era 2 were 3.6 versus 2.7, 27.3 ml versus 18.9 ml, and 15.0 ml versus 6.8 ml, respectively. The median radiation dose per stage was 15.5 Gy in Era 1 and 17.0 Gy in Era 2, and the median clinical follow-up period in living patients was 8.6 years in Era 1 and 4.8 years in Era 2. All outcomes were measured from the first stage of VS-SRS. Near or complete obliteration was more common in Era 2 (log-rank test, p = 0.0003), with 3- and 5-year probabilities of 5% and 21%, respectively, in Era 1 compared with 24% and 68% in Era 2. Radiosurgical dose, AVM volume per stage, total AVM volume, era, compact nidus, Spetzler-Martin grade, and mRBAS were significantly associated with near or complete obliteration on univariate analysis. Dose was a strong predictor of response (Cox proportional hazards, p < 0.001, HR 6.99), with 3- and 5-year probabilities of near or complete obliteration of 5% and 16%, respectively, at a dose < 17 Gy versus 23% and 74% at a dose ≥ 17 Gy. Dose per stage, compact nidus, and total AVM volume remained significant predictors of near or complete obliteration on multivariate analysis. Seventeen patients (25%) had salvage surgery, SRS, and/or embolization. Allowing for salvage therapy, the probability of cure was more common in Era 2 (log-rank test, p = 0.0007) with 5-year probabilities of 0% in Era 1 versus 41% in Era 2. The strong trend toward improved cure in Era 2 persisted on multivariate analysis even when considering mRBAS (Cox proportional hazards, p = 0.055, HR 4.01, 95% CI 0.97–16.59). The complication rate was 29% in Era 1 compared with 13% in Era 2 (Cox proportional hazards, not significant).

CONCLUSIONS

VS-SRS is an option to obliterate or downsize large AVMs. Decreasing the AVM treatment volume per stage to ≤ 8 ml with this technique allowed a higher dose per fraction and decreased time to response, as well as improved rates of near obliteration and cure without increasing complications. Reducing the volume of these very large lesions can facilitate a surgical approach for cure.