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Eduardo Fernandez, Giulio Maira, Alfredo Puca and Andrea Vignati

✓ The authors present a case of multiple brain metastases and an extracranial secondary localization from malignant melanoma. The patient was operated on three times for the intracranial masses and had a 49-month survival with a good quality of life after the first of the three operations. She lived a total of 80 months from the time of diffusion of the primary tumor. The course of malignant melanoma is unpredictable, and long-term survival can be achieved in some cases, even in the presence of multiple brain metastases.

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Giulio Maira, Carmelo Anile, Alessio Albanese, Daniel Cabezas, Flaminia Pardi and Andrea Vignati

Object. The optimal approach for the surgical treatment of craniopharyngiomas is still debated. In all cases involving the sella turcica, the authors have exclusively used transsphenoidal surgery (TSS), assuming that this approach is less traumatic than an intracranial one. Moreover, TSS was also performed in some cases of purely suprasellar craniopharyngiomas. In this study the surgical indications and the results obtained in all patients who had undergone TSS were analyzed.

Methods. In a series of 92 patients who underwent surgery for craniopharyngiomas, TSS was the first choice of approach in 57 cases (62%) consisting of 29 female and 28 male patients with ages ranging from 12 to 79 years (mean 35 years). The follow-up duration ranged from 2 to 20 years. A standard transsphenoidal approach was used in patients with an exclusively intrasellar (11 patients) or an intrasellar and suprasellar tumor (37 patients); in nine cases of tumors located exclusively above the sella turcica, a transsphenoidal presellar approach (seven patients) or a transsellar—transdiaphragmatic approach (two patients) was used. Total removal was performed in 36 patients (63%). All patients had good clinical results. Postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leakage occurred in 10 cases, but only one case required a surgical repair of the sella. Two patients died of late complications (3.5%). There were eight cases (14%) of tumor regrowth.

Conclusions. The authors assert that, when used in appropriately located craniopharyngiomas and by neurosurgeons with extensive experience in pituitary surgery, TSS offers excellent results with minor risks.

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Luigi Pentimalli, Andrea Modesti, Andrea Vignati, Enrico Marchese, Alessio Albanese, Federico Di Rocco, Anna Coletti, Paolo Di Nardo, Cristina Fantini, Barbara Tirpakova and Giulio Maira

Object. Mechanisms involved in the rupture of intracranial aneurysms remain unclear, and the literature on apoptosis in these lesions is extremely limited. The hypothesis that apoptosis may reduce aneurysm wall resistance, thus contributing to its rupture, warrants investigation. The authors in this study focused on the comparative evaluation of apoptosis in ruptured and unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Peripheral arteries in patients harboring the aneurysms and in a group of controls were also analyzed.

Methods. Between September 1999 and February 2002, specimens from 27 intracranial aneurysms were studied. In 13 of these patients apoptosis was also evaluated in specimens of the middle meningeal artery (MMA) and the superficial temporal artery (STA). The terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase—mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling technique was used to study apoptosis via optical microscopy; electron microscopy evaluation was performed as well. Apoptotic cell levels were related to patient age and sex, aneurysm volume and shape, and surgical timing.

Significant differences in apoptosis were observed when comparing ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. High levels of apoptosis were found in 88% of ruptured aneurysms and in only 10% of unruptured lesions (p < 0.001). Elevated apoptosis levels were also detected in all MMA and STA specimens obtained in patients harboring ruptured aneurysms, whereas absent or very low apoptosis levels were observed in MMA and STA specimens from patients with unruptured aneurysms. A significant correlation between aneurysm shape and apoptosis was found.

Conclusions. In this series, aneurysm rupture appeared to be more related to elevated apoptosis levels than to the volume of the aneurysm sac. Data in this study could open the field to investigations clarifying the causes of aneurysm enlargement and rupture.