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Ryszard M. Pluta, Scott D. Wait, John A. Butman, Kathleen A. Leppig, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Edward H. Oldfield and Russell R. Lonser

Hemangioblastomas are histologically benign neoplasms that occur sporadically or as part of von Hippel–Lindau disease. Hemangioblastomas may occur anywhere along the neuraxis, but sacral hemangioblastomas are extremely rare. To identify features that will help guide the operative and clinical management of these lesions, the authors describe the management of a large von Hippel–Lindau disease–associated sacral hemangioblastoma and review the literature.

The authors present the case of a 38-year-old woman with von Hippel–Lindau disease and a 10-year history of progressive back pain, as well as left lower-extremity pain and numbness. Neurological examination revealed decreased sensation in the left S-1 and S-2 dermatomes. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a large enhancing lesion in the sacral region, with associated erosion of the sacrum. The patient underwent arteriography and embolization of the tumor and then resection. The histopathological diagnosis was consistent with hemangioblastoma and showed intrafascicular tumor infiltration of the S-2 nerve root. At 1-year follow-up examination, pain had resolved and numbness improved.

Sacral nerve root hemangioblastomas may be safely removed in most patients, resulting in stabilization or improvement in symptomatology. Generally, hemangioblastomas of the sacral nerve roots should be removed when they cause symptoms. Because they originate from the nerve root, the nerve root from which the hemangioblastoma originates must be sacrificed to achieve complete resection.

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Ryszard M. Pluta, Robert J. Boock, John K. Afshar, Kathleen Clouse, Mima Bacic, Hannelore Ehrenreich and Edward H. Oldfield

Despite years of research, delayed cerebral vasospasm remains a serious complication of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Recently, it has been proposed that endothelin-1 (ET-1) mediates vasospasm. The authors examined this hypothesis in a series of experiments. In a primate model of SAH, serial ET-1 levels were measured in samples from the perivascular space by using a microdialysis technique and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma during the development and resolution of delayed vasospasm. To determine whether elevated ET-1 production was a direct cause of vasospasm or acted secondary to ischemia, the authors also measured ET-1 levels in plasma and CSF after transient cerebral ischemia. To elucidate the source of ET-1, they measured its production in cultures of endothelial cells and astrocytes exposed to oxyhemoglobin (10 μM), methemoglobin (10 μM), or hypoxia (11% oxygen).

There was no correlation between the perivascular levels of ET-1 and the development of vasospasm or its resolution. Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma levels of ET-1 were not affected by vasospasm (CSF ET-1 levels were 9.3 ± 2.2 pg/ml and ET-1 plasma levels were 1.2 ± 0.6 pg/ml) before SAH and remained unchanged when vasospasm developed (7.1 ± 1.7 pg/ml in CSF and 2.7 ± 1.5 pg/ml in plasma). Transient cerebral ischemia evoked an increase of ET-1 levels in CSF (1 ± 0.4 pg/ml at the occlusion vs. 3.1 ± 0.6 pg/ml 4 hours after reperfusion; p < 0.05), which returned to normal (0.7 ± 0.3 pg/ml) after 24 hours. Endothelial cells and astrocytes in culture showed inhibition of ET-1 production 6 hours after exposure to hemoglobins. Hypoxia inhibited ET-1 release by endothelial cells at 24 hours (6.4 ± 0.8 pg/ml vs. 0.1 ± 0.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic endothelial cells; p < 0.05) and at 48 hours (6.4 ± 0.6 pg/ml vs. 0 ± 0.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic endothelial cells; p < 0.05), but in astrocytes hypoxia induced an increase of ET-1 at 6 hours (1.5 ± 0.6 vs. 6.4 ± 1.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic astrocytes; p < 0.05).

Endothelin-1 is released from astrocytes, but not endothelial cells, during hypoxia and is released from the brain after transient ischemia. There is no relationship between ET-1 and vasospasm in vivo or between ET-1 and oxyhemoglobin, a putative agent of vasospasm, in vitro. The increase in ET-1 levels in CSF after SAH from a ruptured intracranial aneurysm appears to be the result of cerebral ischemia rather than reflecting the cause of cerebral vasospasm.