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Angiography After Aneurysm Surgery

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Spinal epidural arteriovenous fistula with intramedullary reflux

Case report

Farhad Pirouzmand, M. Christopher Wallace, and Robert Willinsky

✓ A spinal epidural arteriovenous fistula with secondary reflux into the perimedullary veins is a rare entity. The authors present such a case with a discussion of its pathophysiology and treatment. The mechanism for formation of a spinal dural arteriovenous fistula is outlined based on the anatomical substrates in this region.

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Benign dural arteriovenous fistulas

Roberto C. Heros

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Safety of intracranial aneurysm surgery performed in a postgraduate training program: implications for training

Sarah I. Woodrow, Mark Bernstein, and M. Christopher Wallace

Object. Patient care and educational experience have long formed a dichotomy in modern surgical training. In neurosurgery, achieving a delicate balance between these two factors has been challenged by recent trends in the field including increased subspecialization, emerging technologies, and decreased resident work hours. In this study the authors evaluated the experience profiles of neurosurgical trainees at a large Canadian academic center and the safety of their practice on patient care.

Methods. Two hundred ninety-three patients who underwent surgery for intracranial aneurysm clipping between 1993 and 1996 were selected. Prospective data were available in 167 cases, allowing the operating surgeon to be identified. Postoperative data and follow-up data were gathered retrospectively to measure patient outcomes. In 167 cases, a total of 183 aneurysms were clipped, the majority (91%) by neurosurgical trainees. Trainees performed dissections on aneurysms that were predominantly small (<1.5 cm in diameter; 77% of patients) and ruptured (64% of patients). Overall mortality rates for the patients treated by the trainee group were 4% (two of 52 patients) and 9% (nine of 100 patients) for unruptured and ruptured aneurysm cases, respectively. Patient outcomes were comparable to those reported in historical data. Staff members appeared to be primary surgeons in a select subset of cases.

Conclusions. Neurosurgical trainees at this institution are exposed to a broad spectrum of intracranial aneurysms, although some case selection does occur. With careful supervision, intracranial aneurysm surgery can be safely delegated to trainees without compromising patient outcomes. Current trends in practice patterns in neurosurgery mandate ongoing monitoring of residents' operative experience while ensuring continued excellence in patient care.

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Multiplicity of dural arteriovenous fistulas

J. Marc C. Van Dijk, Karel G. TerBrugge, Robert A. Willinsky, and M. Christopher Wallace

Object. Dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are a well-known pathoanatomical and clinical entity. Excluding bilateral involvement of the cavernous sinus, multiple dural AVFs are rare, with isolated reports in the literature. The additional risk associated with multiplicity is unknown, although it has been claimed that there is a greater risk of hemorrhage at presentation. In a group of 284 patients with dural AVFs consecutively treated at a single center, the occurrence of multiplicity is investigated and its risk factors for hemorrhage are identified.

Methods. Among the 284 patients with both cranial and spinal dural AVFs, 20 patients with multiple fistulas were found. Nineteen (8.1%) of 235 patients with cranial AVFs had multiple cranial fistulas, and one (2%) of 49 patients with spinal AVFs harbored two spinal fistulas. Twelve patients were found to have a lesion at two separate sites, seven patients had them at three locations, and one patient had four fistulas, each at a different site.

In the subgroup with multiple AVFs the percentage of hemorrhage at presentation was three times higher than in the entire group (p = 0.01). Cortical venous drainage in cranial fistulas was present in 84% of patients with multiple lesions compared with 46% of patients with solitary lesions (p < 0.005).

Conclusions. Multiple dural AVFs are not rare. In this group of 284 patients it was found in 8.1% of all patients with cranial dural AVFs. Multiplicity was associated with a higher percentage of cortical venous drainage, a pattern of drainage reportedly yielding a higher risk for hemorrhage.

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Role of angiography following aneurysm surgery

R. Loch Macdonald, M. Christopher Wallace, and John R. W. Kestle

✓ The postoperative angiograms in 66 patients who underwent craniotomy for clipping of 78 cerebral aneurysms were reviewed. Indications for urgent postoperative angiography included neurological deficit or repeat subarachnoid hemorrhage. Routine postoperative angiograms were carried out in the remaining patients. Postoperative angiograms were reviewed to determine the incidence of unexpected findings such as unclipped aneurysms, residual aneurysms, and unforeseen major vessel occlusions. Logistic regression analysis was used to test if the following were factors that predicted an unexpected finding on postoperative angiography: aneurysm site or size; the intraoperative impression that residual aneurysm was left or a major vessel was occluded; intraoperative aneurysm rupture; opening or needle aspiration of the aneurysm after clipping; or development of a new neurological deficit after surgery. Kappa values were calculated to assess the agreement between some of these clinical factors and unexpected angiographic findings.

Unexpected residual aneurysms were seen in three (4%) of the 78 occlusions. In addition, three aneurysms were completely unclipped (4%); these three patients were returned to the operating room and had their aneurysms successfully obliterated. There were nine unexpected major vessel occlusions (12%); six of these resulted in disabling stroke and two patients died. Of six major arteries considered to be occluded intraoperatively and shown to be occluded by postoperative angiography, two were associated with cerebral infarction. Logistic regression analysis showed that a new postoperative neurological deficit predicted an unforeseen vessel occlusion on postoperative angiography. Factors could not be identified that predicted unexpected residual aneurysm or unclipped aneurysm.

The inability to predict accurately the presence of residual or unclipped aneurysm suggests that all patients should undergo postoperative angiography. Since a new postoperative neurological deficit is one factor predicting unexpected arterial occlusion, intraoperative angiography may be necessary to help reduce the incidence of stroke after aneurysm surgery. With study of more patients or of factors not examined in this series, it may be possible to select cases more accurately for intraoperative or postoperative angiography.

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Selective disconnection of cortical venous reflux as treatment for cranial dural arteriovenous fistulas

J. Marc C. van Dijk, Karel G. TerBrugge, Robert A. Willinsky, and M. Christopher Wallace

Object. A single-institution series of 119 consecutive patients with a dural arteriovenous fistula (DAVF) and cortical venous reflux was reviewed to assess the overall clinical outcome of multidisciplinary management after long-term follow up. The selective disconnection of the cortical venous reflux compared with the obliteration of the entire DAVF was evaluated.

Methods. Dural arteriovenous fistulas in patients in this series were diagnosed between 1984 and 2001, and treatment was instituted in 102 of them. The outcome of adequately treated patients was compared with that of a control group consisting of those with persistent cortical venous reflux and with data found in the literature. In cases of combined dural sinus drainage and cortical venous reflux, a novel treatment concept of selective disconnection of the cortical venous reflux that left the sinus drainage intact, and thus converted the aggressive DAVF into a benign lesion, was evaluated.

Endovascular treatment, which was instituted initially in 78 patients, resulted in an obliteration or selective disconnection in 26 (25.5%) of 102 cases. In 70 cases (68.6%) the DAVFs were surgically obliterated or disconnected. In six cases (5.9%), patients were left with persistent cortical venous reflux. No lasting complications were noted in this series. Follow-up angiography confirmed a durable result in 94 (97.9%) of 96 adequately treated cases, at a mean follow up of 27.6 months (range 1.4–138.3 months).

Selective disconnection was performed in 23 DAVFs with combined sinus drainage and cortical venous reflux. These patients' long-term outcomes were equal to those with obliterated DAVFs, and the complication rate was lower.

Conclusions. Considering the ominous course of DAVFs with patent cortical venous reflux, multidisciplinary treatment of these lesions is highly effective and the complication rate is low. Selective disconnection provides a valid treatment option of DAVFs with combined dural sinus drainage and cortical venous reflux, as has been shown in cranial DAVFs with direct cortical venous reflux.

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Pathological effects of angioplasty on vasospastic carotid arteries in a rabbit model

R. Loch Macdonald, M. Christopher Wallace, Walter J. Montanera, and Jennifer A. Glen

✓ To define the pathological effects of angioplasty on vasospastic arteries, 36 rabbits underwent angiography and induction of vasospasm by placement of blood-filled (vasospasm groups) or empty (control group) silastic sheaths around the cervical carotid arteries. Two (Day 2) or 7 days (Day 7) later, angiography was repeated and one carotid artery in each animal was dilated by balloon angioplasty. The rabbits were sacrificed 1 day, 7 days, or 3 to 4 weeks after angioplasty. Significant vasospasm developed after placement of silastic sheaths with blood (mean reductions in diameter 39% ± 6% at Day 2 and 48% ± 5% at Day 7). Arterial narrowing was less apparent in the control groups at Day 2 (24% ± 7%). Angioplasty performed on Day 2 significantly increased arterial diameters of vasospastic arteries (50% ± 7%; p < 0.05) but not those of control arteries (10% ± 6%, p > 0.05). Angioplasty performed on Day 7 increased the arterial diameters by a similar degree (47% ± 13%, not significant). Arteries remained dilated after angioplasty, although there was significant vasospasm 7 days after angioplasty when angioplasty was performed on Day 2. Blinded, semiquantitative histopathological study of the arteries showed that 3 to 4 weeks after angioplasty, there was significant endothelial proliferation and a trend for thinning of the tunica media. There were no significant changes in control arteries subjected to angioplasty. Angioplasty was not associated with significant arterial fibrosis as measured by hydroxyproline content (analysis of variance). The increase in endothelial proliferation and decrease in the thickness of the tunica media suggest that, in the rabbit model, angioplasty damages endothelial and smooth-muscle cells. This may be the basis for the observation that vasospastic arteries do not reconstrict after angioplasty.

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The effect of surgery on the severity of vasospasm

R. Loch Macdonald, M. Christopher Wallace, and Terry J. Coyne

✓ Intracranial aneurysm surgery performed between 4 and 12 days after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) has been associated with an increased risk of delayed cerebral ischemia and poor outcome compared to surgery performed before or after this time. To investigate whether this increased risk is due to aggravation of vasospasm, the angiograms obtained before and after surgery in 56 patients operated on at various times after aneurysmal SAH were studied. Vasospasm was quantitated by measuring the diameters of intracranial arteries and expressed as the ratio of the diameters of the intracranial arteries to the diameter of the extracranial internal carotid artery. Aggressive surgical clot removal was not performed at surgery. To correct for differences in prognostic factors for vasospasm between patients operated on at different times after SAH, multiple regression analysis was performed using the arterial diameter ratio during vasospasm as the dependent variable and the prognostic factors for vasospasm, including the time of surgery, as independent variables. Equations predicting the severity of vasospasm could be generated using the clinical grade on admission, patient age, and preoperative arterial diameter ratio.

The time of surgery had no effect on vasospasm. Cerebral infarction due to vasospasm developed in five (15%) of 34 patients operated on within 3 days after SAH and in four (20%) of 20 operated on between 4 and 12 days after SAH (p = 0.66). A good outcome for these two groups was achieved in 88% and 85%, respectively (p = 1.00). These results suggest that the timing of surgery does not affect the development of vasospasm. Any increased risk of cerebral ischemia associated with surgery performed between 4 and 12 days after SAH is due to factors other than aggravation of vasospasm.

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Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: incidence, predictors, and revision rates

Clinical article

Cian J. O'Kelly, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Peter C. Austin, David Urbach, and M. Christopher Wallace


Chronic shunt-dependent hydrocephalus is a recognized complication of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. While its incidence and risk factors have been well described, the long-term performance of shunts in this setting has not been not widely reported.


Using administrative databases, the authors derived a retrospective cohort of patients undergoing treatment of a ruptured aneurysm in Ontario, Canada, between 1995 and 2005. The authors determined the incidence of shunt-dependent hydrocephalus and analyzed putative risk factors. Mortality rates and indicators of morbidity were recorded. Patients were followed up for the occurrence of shunt failure over time.


Of 3120 patients in the cohort, 585 (18.75%) developed shunt-dependent hydrocephalus. On multivariate analysis, age, acute hydrocephalus, ventilation on admission, aneurysms in the posterior circulation and giant aneurysms were all significant predictors of shunt-dependent hydrocephalus. The mortality rate was not increased in patients with chronic hydrocephalus (hazard ratio 1.04, p = 0.63); however, indicators of morbidity were increased in these patients. Of the 585 patients with shunt-dependent hydrocephalus, only 173 (29.6%) underwent a subsequent revision procedure. Ninety-eight percent of these revisions were completed within 6 months. Subsequent revisions occurred more frequently. On multivariate analysis, significant predictors of shunt revision included aneurysm location in the posterior circulation and endovascular treatment of the initial ruptured aneurysm.


Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus affects a significant proportion of subarachnoid hemorrhage survivors, contributing to additional morbidity among these patients. Shunt failures occur less frequently in patients who underwent treatment for a ruptured aneurysm than with other forms of hydrocephalus. Most failures occur within 6 months, suggesting that shunt dependency may be transient in the majority of patients.