Transaqueductal navigation of the fourth ventricle has long been considered dangerous and of no clinical relevance. After the refinement of the endoscopic technique and supported by the extensive experience gained at the authors' institution since 1994, endoscopic exploration of the fourth ventricle has been performed by the same surgeon in 54 patients. In all cases reviewed, endoscopic navigation of the fourth ventricle was successfully performed with no related neurological deficit. This preliminary experience shows the feasibility of transaqueductal navigation of the fourth ventricle, which is made possible by the use of small, flexible endoscopes in expert hands.
Technical note and preliminary experience
Pierluigi Longatti, Luca Basaldella, Alberto Feletti, Alessandro Fiorindi and Domenico Billeci
Pierluigi Longatti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alberto Feletti and Vittorio Baratto
✓A membrane obstruction of the foramina of Magendie and Luschka is an uncommon origin of hydrocephalus characterized by unusual clinical symptoms of rhomboid fossa hypertension. Various surgical approaches have been proposed to alleviate this obstruction, including opening the obstructed foramen of Magendie using suboccipital craniectomy, shunting procedures, and more recently, endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV). In some cases, however, reshaping of the posterior fossa due to the collapse of the prepontine cistern could make ETV difficult for the surgeon and dangerous to the patient. In these cases, endoscopic opening of the foramen of Magendie by transaqueductal navigation of the fourth ventricle is a suitable and feasible therapeutic option.
Case report and review of the literature
Pierluigi Longatti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alessandro Perin, Vittorio Baratto and Andrea Martinuzzi
✓The authors report on a patient who presented with an intraventricular mass located at the level of the foramen of Monro. The clinical presentation and neuroimaging appearance of the mass led to an initial diagnosis of colloid cyst. A neuroendoscopic approach offered a direct view of the ventricular lesion, which was found to be a cavernous angioma partially occluding the foramen of Monro. The lesion was then removed using microsurgery. In this report the authors highlight possible pitfalls in the diagnosis of some lesions of the third ventricle, and the possible advantages of using a combined endoscopic and microsurgical technique when approaching such lesions.
Luca Basaldella, Elisabetta Marton, Alessandro Fiorindi, Bruno Scarpa, Hadi Badreddine and Pierluigi Longatti
Massive intraventricular hemorrhages (IVHs) require aggressive and rapid management to decrease intracranial hypertension, because the amount of intraventricular blood is a strong negative prognostic predictor on outcome. Neuroendoscopy may offer some advantages over more traditional surgical approaches on outcome and may decrease the number of shunt procedures that need to be performed.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the clinical and radiological data in 96 patients treated for massive IVH who were admitted between January 1996 and June 2008 to the neurosurgery unit after undergoing emergency CT scanning. Forty-eight patients (Group A) were treated with endoscopic aspiration surgery using a flexible endoscope with a “freehand” technique. A historical group of 48 patients (Group B) treated using external ventricular drain (EVD) placement alone was used as a comparison. The authors compared the radiological results with the clinical outcomes at 1 year according to the modified Rankin Scale and the need for internal CSF shunt treatment in the 2 groups.
Endoscopic aspiration did not significantly affect the outcome at 1 year as determined using the modified Rankin Scale. Patients who underwent endoscopy had an EVD in place for 0.18 days fewer than patients treated with an EVD alone. Patients undergoing external ventricular drainage alone had a 5 times greater chance of requiring a shunting procedure than those treated using neuroendoscopy and external ventricular drainage. Neuroendoscopy plus external drainage reduces shunting rates by 34% when compared with external drainage alone.
The reduction in internal shunt surgery encourages the adoption of neuroendoscopic aspiration of severe IVH as a therapeutic tool to decrease shunt dependency.
Pierluigi Longatti, Andrea Porzionato, Luca Basaldella, Alessandro Fiorindi, Pietro De Caro and Alberto Feletti
The human area postrema (AP) is a circumventricular organ that has only been described in cadaveric specimens and animals. Because of its position in the calamus scriptorius and the absence of surface markers on the floor of the fourth ventricle, the AP cannot be clearly localized during surgical procedures.
The authors intravenously administered 500 mg fluorescein sodium to 25 patients during neuroendoscopic procedures; in 12 of these patients they explored the fourth ventricle. A flexible endoscope equipped with dual observation modes for both white light and fluorescence was used. The intraoperative fluorescent images were reviewed and compared with anatomical specimens and 3D reconstructions.
Because the blood-brain barrier does not cover the AP, it was visualized in all cases after fluorescein sodium injection. The AP is seen as 2 coupled leaves on the floor of the fourth ventricle, diverging from the canalis centralis medullaris upward. Although the leaves normally appear short and thick, there can be different morphological patterns. Exploration using the endoscope's fluorescent mode allowed precise localization of the AP in all cases.
Fluorescence-enhanced inspection of the fourth ventricle accurately identifies the position of the AP, which is an important landmark during surgical procedures on the brainstem. A better understanding of the AP can also be valuable for neurologists, considering its functional role in the regulation of homeostasis, emesis, and cardiovascular and electrolyte balance. Despite the limited number of cases in this report, evidence indicates that the normal anatomical appearance of the AP is that of 2 short and thick leaves that are joined at the midline. However, there can be great variability in terms of the structure's shape and size.
Pierluigi Longatti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alberto Feletti, Domenico D'Avella and Andrea Martinuzzi
Microsurgical anatomy of the fourth ventricle has been comprehensively addressed by masterly reports providing classic descriptions of this complex region. Neuroendoscopy could offer a new, somewhat different perspective of the “inside” view of the fourth ventricle. The purpose of this study was to examine from the anatomical point of view the access to the fourth ventricle achieved by the endoscopic transaqueductal approach, to enumerate and describe the anatomically identifiable landmarks, and to compare them with those described during microsurgery.
The video recordings of 52 of 75 endoscopic explorations of the fourth ventricle performed at the authors' institution for different pathological conditions were reviewed and evaluated to identify and describe every anatomical landmark. According to the microsurgical anatomy, at least 23 superficial structures are clearly identifiable in the fourth ventricle, and they represent the comparative basis of parallel endoscopic anatomy of the structures found during the fourth ventricle navigation.
The following anatomical structures were identified in all cases: median sulcus, superior and inferior vela medullare, choroid plexus, inferior fovea, hypoglossal and vagal triangles, area postrema, obex, canalis medullaris, lateral recess, and the foramina of Luschka and Magendie. The median eminence, facial colliculus, striae medullaris, auditory tubercle, and inferior fovea were seen in the majority of cases. The locus caevruleus could never be seen.
On the whole, 20 anatomical structures could consistently be identified by exploring the fourth ventricle with a fiberscope. Neuroendoscopy offers a quite different outlook on the anatomy of the fourth ventricle, and compared with the microsurgical descriptions it seems to provide a superior and detailed visualization, particularly of the structures located in the inferior triangle.
Pierluigi Longatti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Paolo Peruzzo, Luca Basaldella and Francesca Maria Susin
In the last 20 years, researchers have debated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics theories, commonly based on the classic bulk flow perspective. New hypotheses do not consider a possible hydraulic impact of the ventricular morphology. The present study investigates, by means of a mathematical model, the eventual role played by the geometric shape of the “third ventricle–aqueduct–fourth ventricle” complex in CSF circulation under the assumption that the complex behaves like a diffuser/nozzle (DN) pump.
DN pumps are quite recent devices introduced as valveless micropumps in various industrial applications given their property of driving net flow when subjected to rhythmic pulsations. A novel peculiar DN pump configuration was adopted in this study to mimic the ventricular complex, with two reservoirs (the ventricles) and one tube provided with a conical reach (the aqueduct–proximal fourth ventricle). The flow was modeled according to the classic equations of laminar flow, and the external rhythmic pulsations forcing the system were reproduced as a pulsatile pressure gradient between the chambers. Several physiological scenarios were implemented with the integration of data acquired by MRI in 10 patients with no known pathology of CSF dynamics, and a quantitative analysis of the effect of geometric and hydraulic parameters (diverging angle, sizes, frequency of pulsations) on the CSF net flow was performed.
The results showed a craniocaudal net flow in all the given values, consistent with the findings of cine MRI studies. Moreover, the net flow estimated for the analyzed cohort of patients ranged from 0.221 to 0.505 ml/min, remarkably close to the values found on phase contrast cine MRI in healthy subjects. Sensitivity analysis underlines the pivotal role of the DN configuration, as well as of the frequency of forcing pressure, which promotes a relevant net flow considering both the heart and respiration rate.
This work suggests that the geometry of the third ventricle–aqueduct–fourth ventricle complex, which resembles a diverter, appears to be functional in the generation of a net craniocaudal flow and potentially has an impact on CSF dynamics. These conclusions can be drawn by observing the analogies between the shape of the ventricles and the geometry of DN pumps and by recognizing the basis of the mathematical model of the simplified third ventricle–aqueduct–fourth ventricle complex proposed.
Piero Andrea Oppido, Alessandro Fiorindi, Lucia Benvenuti, Fabio Cattani, Saverio Cipri, Michelangelo Gangemi, Umberto Godano, Pierluigi Longatti, Carmelo Mascari, Enzo Morace and Luigino Tosatto
Although neuroendoscopic biopsy is routinely performed, the safety and validity of this procedure has been studied only in small numbers of patients in single-center reports. The Section of Neuroendoscopy of the Italian Neurosurgical Society invited some of its members to review their own experience, gathering a sufficient number of cases for a wide analysis.
Retrospective data were collected by 7 centers routinely performing neuroendoscopic biopsies over a period of 10 years. Sixty patients with newly diagnosed intraventricular and paraventricular tumors were included. No patient harboring a colloid cyst was included. Data regarding clinical presentation, neuroimaging findings, operative techniques, pathological diagnosis, postoperative complications, and subsequent therapy were analyzed.
In all patients, a neuroendoscopic tumor biopsy was performed. In 38 patients (64%), obstructive hydrocephalus was present. In addition to the tumor biopsy, 32 patients (53%) underwent endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and 7 (12%) underwent septum pellucidotomy. Only 2 patients required a ventriculoperitoneal shunt shortly after the endoscopy procedure because ETV was not feasible. The major complication due to the endoscopy procedure was ventricular hemorrhage noted on the postoperative images in 8 cases (13%). Only 2 patients were symptomatic and required medical therapy. Infection occurred in only 1 case, and the other complications were all reversible. In no case did clinically significant sequelae affect the patient's outcome. Tumor types ranged across the spectrum and included glioma (low- and high-grade [27%]), pure germinoma (15%), pineal parenchymal tumor (12%), primary neuroectodermal tumor (4%), lymphoma (9%), metastasis (4%), craniopharyngioma (6%), and other tumor types (13%). In 10% of patients, the pathological findings were inconclusive. According to diagnosis, specific therapy was performed in 35% of patients: 17% underwent microsurgical removal, and 18% underwent chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
This is one of the largest series confirming the safety and validity of the neuroendoscopic biopsy procedure. Complications were relatively low (about 13%), and they were all reversible. Neuroendoscopic biopsy provided meaningful pathological data in 90% of patients, making subsequent tumor therapy feasible. Cerebrospinal fluid pathways can be restored by ETV or septum pellucidotomy (65%) to control intracranial hypertension. In light of the results obtained, a neuroendoscopic biopsy should be considered a possible alternative to the stereotactic biopsy in the diagnosis and treatment of ventricular or paraventricular tumors. Furthermore, it could be the only surgical procedure necessary for the treatment of selected tumors.