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Darryl Lau, Caleb Rutledge and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECT

Cushing's disease (CD) can lead to significant morbidity secondary to hormonal sequelae or mass effect from the pituitary tumor. A transsphenoidal approach to resection of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–secreting pituitary adenoma is the first-line treatment. However, in the setting in which patients are unable to undergo surgery, have acute hypercortisolism, or have recurrent disease, medical therapy can play an important role. The authors performed a systematic review to highlight the efficacy of medical treatment of CD and discuss novel molecular insights that could guide the development of future medical treatments of CD.

METHODS

A search on current medical therapies for CD was performed. After individual medical therapeutic agents for CD were identified, each agent underwent a formal systematic search. The phrase “(name of agent) and Cushing's” was used as a search term in PubMed for all years up to 2014. The abstract of each article was reviewed for studies that evaluated the efficacy of medical treatment of CD. Only studies that enrolled at least 20 patients were included in the review.

RESULTS

A total of 11 articles on 6 individual agents were included in this review. Specific medical therapies were categorized based on the level of action: pituitary directed (cabergoline and pasireotide), adrenal/steroidogenesis directed (ketoconazole, metyrapone, and mitotane), and end-tissue directed/cortisol receptors (mifepristone). The studies identified consisted of a mix of retrospective reviews and small clinical trials. Only pasireotide and mifepristone have undergone Phase III clinical trials, from which they garnered FDA approval for the treatment of patients with CD. Overall, agents targeting ACTH secretion and steroidogenesis were found to be quite effective in reducing urine free cortisol (UFC) to levels near normal. A significant reduction in UFC was observed in 45%–100% of patients and a majority of patients gained clinical improvement. Similarly, inhibition at the end-tissue level led to clinical improvement in 87% of patients. However, side-effect rates associated with these drugs are high (up to 88%). Ketoconazole has been shown to enhance tumor appearance on MRI to facilitate pituitary resection. Promising molecular targets have been identified, including epidermal growth factor receptor, retinoic acid receptors, and cyclin dependent kinases. These pathways have been linked to the regulation of pro-opiomelanocortin expression, ACTH secretion, and tumor growth.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite encouraging Phase III clinical trials leading to FDA approval of 2 agents for treatment of patients with CD, no agent has yet produced results comparable to resection. As a result, the molecular insights gained into CD pathogenesis will need to continue to be expanded until they can lead to the development of medical therapies for CD with a favorable side-effect profile and efficacy comparable to resection. Ideally these agents should also reduce tumor size, which could potentially permit their eventual discontinuation.

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Adib A. Abla, Jeffrey Nelson, W. Caleb Rutledge, William L. Young, Helen Kim and Michael T. Lawton

Object

Patients with posterior fossa arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are more likely to present with hemorrhage than those with supratentorial AVMs. Observed patients subject to the AVM natural history should be informed of the individualized effects of AVM characteristics on the clinical course following a new, first-time hemorrhage. The authors hypothesize that the debilitating effects of first-time bleeding from an AVM in a previously intact patient with an unruptured AVM are more pronounced when AVMs are located in the posterior fossa.

Methods

The University of California, San Francisco prospective registry of brain AVMs was searched for patients with a ruptured AVM who had a pre-hemorrhage modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of 0 and a post-hemorrhage mRS score obtained within 2 days of the hemorrhagic event. A total of 154 patients met the inclusion criteria for this study. Immediate post-hemorrhage presentation mRS scores were dichotomized into nonsevere outcome (mRS ≤ 3) and severe outcome (mRS > 3). There were 77 patients in each group. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses using severe outcome as the binary response were run. The authors also performed a logistic regression analysis to measure the effects of hematoma volume and AVM location on severe outcome.

Results

Posterior fossa location was a significant predictor of severe outcome (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.20–5.67, p = 0.016) and the results were strengthened in a multivariate model (OR 4.96, 95% CI 1.73–14.17, p = 0.003). Eloquent location (OR 3.47, 95% CI 1.37–8.80, p = 0.009) and associated arterial aneurysms (OR 2.58, 95% CI 1.09, 6.10; p = 0.031) were also significant predictors of poor outcome. Hematoma volume for patients with a posterior fossa AVM was 10.1 ± 10.1 cm3 compared with 25.6 ±28.0 cm3 in supratentorial locations (p = 0.003). A logistic analysis (based on imputed hemorrhage volume values) found that posterior fossa location was a significant predictor of severe outcome (OR 8.03, 95% CI 1.20–53.77, p = 0.033) and logarithmic hematoma volume showed a positive, but not statistically significant, association in the model (p = 0.079).

Conclusions

Patients with posterior fossa AVMs are more likely to have severe outcomes than those with supratentorial AVMs based on this natural history study. Age, sex, and ethnicity were not associated with an increased risk of severe outcome after AVM rupture, but posterior fossa location, associated aneurysms, and eloquent location were associated with poor post-hemorrhage mRS scores. Posterior fossa hematomas are poorly tolerated, with severe outcomes observed even with smaller hematoma volumes. These findings support an aggressive surgical posture with respect to posterior fossa AVMs, both before and after rupture.

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W. Caleb Rutledge, Adib A. Abla, Jeffrey Nelson, Van V. Halbach, Helen Kim and Michael T. Lawton

Object

Management of unruptured arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) is controversial. In the first randomized trial of unruptured AVMs (A Randomized Trial of Unruptured Brain Arteriovenous Malformations [ARUBA]), medically managed patients had a significantly lower risk of death or stroke and had better outcomes. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) was one of the participating ARUBA sites. While 473 patients were screened for eligibility, only 4 patients were enrolled in ARUBA. The purpose of this study is to report the treatment and outcomes of all ARUBA-eligible patients at UCSF.

Methods

The authors compared the treatment and outcomes of ARUBA-eligible patients using prospectively collected data from the UCSF brain AVM registry. Similar to ARUBA, they compared the rate of stroke or death in observed and treated patients and used the modified Rankin Scale to grade outcomes.

Results

Of 74 patients, 61 received an intervention and 13 were observed. Most treated patients had resection with or without preoperative embolization (43 [70.5%] of 61 patients). One of the 13 observed patients died after AVM hemorrhage. Nine of the 61 treated patients had a stroke or died. There was no significant difference in the rate of stroke or death (HR 1.34, 95% CI 0.12–14.53, p = 0.81) or clinical impairment (Fisher’s exact test, p > 0.99) between observed and treated patients.

Conclusions

The risk of stroke or death and degree of clinical impairment among treated patients was lower than reported in ARUBA. The authors found no significant difference in outcomes between observed and treated ARUBA-eligible patients at UCSF. Results in ARUBA-eligible patients managed outside that trial led to an entirely different conclusion about AVM intervention, due to the primary role of surgery, judicious surgical selection with established outcome predictors, and technical expertise developed at high-volume AVM centers.

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W. Caleb Rutledge, Omar Choudhri, Brian P. Walcott, Arnau Benet, Christine K. Fox, Nalin Gupta and Michael T. Lawton

Mutations in the smooth muscle–specific isoform of alpha actin (ACTA2) cause smooth muscle dysfunction in arteries. This rare loss-of-function mutation may cause a diffuse occlusive cerebral arteriopathy, resulting in stroke. While ACTA2 arteriopathy is often described as moyamoya-like, it has a distinct phenotype characterized by dilation of the proximal internal carotid artery (ICA) and occlusion of the terminal ICA and proximal middle cerebral artery. Intracranial arteries have an abnormally straight course, often with small aneurysms. There is limited experience with revascularization procedures for ACTA2 arteriopathy, and the safety and efficacy of these procedures are unknown. In this paper the authors present a symptomatic 6-year-old patient with ACTA2 cerebral arteriopathy who underwent both indirect revascularization and direct cerebrovascular bypass. Postoperatively, the patient suffered an ischemic infarct in a neighboring vascular territory. While direct cerebrovascular bypass is technically feasible, patients with ACTA2 arteriopathy may be at increased risk for perioperative stroke compared with patients with moyamoya disease.

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Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Michelle H. Chua, Ethan A. Winkler, W. Caleb Rutledge and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

During the microsurgical clipping of known aneurysms, angiographically occult (AO) aneurysms are sometimes found and treated simultaneously to prevent their growth and protect the patient from future rupture or reoperation. The authors analyzed the incidence, treatment, and outcomes associated with AO aneurysms to determine whether limited surgical exploration around the known aneurysm was safe and justified given the known limitations of diagnostic angiography.

METHODS

An AO aneurysm was defined as a saccular aneurysm detected using the operative microscope during dissection of a known aneurysm, and not detected on preoperative catheter angiography. A prospective database was retrospectively reviewed to identify patients with AO aneurysms treated microsurgically over a 20-year period.

RESULTS

One hundred fifteen AO aneurysms (4.0%) were identified during 2867 distinct craniotomies for aneurysm clipping. The most common locations for AO aneurysms were the middle cerebral artery (60 aneurysms, 54.1%) and the anterior cerebral artery (20 aneurysms, 18.0%). Fifty-six AO aneurysms (50.5%) were located on the same artery as the known saccular aneurysm. Most AO aneurysms (95.5%) were clipped and there was no attributed morbidity. The most common causes of failed angiographic detection were superimposition of a large aneurysm (type 1, 30.6%), a small aneurysm (type 2, 18.9%), or an adjacent normal artery (type 3, 36.9%). Multivariate analysis identified multiple known aneurysms (odds ratio [OR] 3.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.16–5.49, p < 0.0001) and young age (OR 0.981, 95% CI 0.965–0.997, p = 0.0226) as independent predictors of AO aneurysms.

CONCLUSIONS

Meticulous inspection of common aneurysm sites within the surgical field will identify AO aneurysms during microsurgical dissection of another known aneurysm. Simultaneous identification and treatment of these additional undiagnosed aneurysms can spare patients later rupture or reoperation, particularly in those with multiple known aneurysms and a history of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Limited microsurgical exploration around a known aneurysm can be performed safely without additional morbidity.

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Ethan A. Winkler, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, W. Caleb Rutledge, Jonathan W. Rick, Carlene P. Partow, John K. Yue, Harjus Birk, Ashley M. Bach, Kunal P. Raygor and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus is an important cause of morbidity following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) in excess of 20% of cases. Hydrocephalus leads to prolonged hospital and ICU stays, well as to repeated surgical interventions, readmissions, and complications associated with ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts, including shunt failure and infection. Whether variations in surgical technique at the time of aneurysm treatment may modify rates of shunt dependency remains a matter of debate. Here, the authors report on their experience with tandem fenestration of the lamina terminalis (LT) and membrane of Liliequist (MoL) at the time of open microsurgical repair of the ruptured aneurysm.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of 663 consecutive patients with aSAH treated from 2005 to 2015 by open microsurgery via a pterional or orbitozygomatic craniotomy by the senior author (M.T.L.). Data collected from review of the electronic medical record included age, Hunt and Hess grade, Fisher grade, need for an external ventricular drain, and opening pressure. Patients were stratified into those undergoing no fenestration and those undergoing tandem fenestration of the LT and MoL at the time of surgical repair. Outcome variables, including VP shunt placement and timing of shunt placement, were recorded and statistically analyzed.

RESULTS

In total, shunt-dependent hydrocephalus was observed in 15.8% of patients undergoing open surgical repair following aSAH. Tandem microsurgical fenestration of the LT and MoL was associated with a statistically significant reduction in shunt dependency (17.9% vs 3.2%, p < 0.01). This effect was confirmed with multivariate analysis of collected variables (multivariate OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.03–0.30). Number-needed-to-treat analysis demonstrated that tandem fenestration was required in approximately 6.8 patients to prevent a single VP shunt placement. A statistically significant prolongation in days to VP shunt surgery was also observed in patients treated with tandem fenestration (26.6 ± 19.4 days vs 54.0 ± 36.5 days, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Tandem fenestration of the LT and MoL at the time of open microsurgical clipping and/or bypass to secure ruptured anterior and posterior circulation aneurysms is associated with reductions in shunt-dependent hydrocephalus following aSAH. Future prospective randomized multicenter studies are needed to confirm this result.

Free access

Ethan A. Winkler, John K. Yue, Hansen Deng, Kunal P. Raygor, Ryan R. L. Phelps, Caleb Rutledge, Alex Y. Lu, Roberto Rodriguez Rubio, Jan-Karl Burkhardt and Adib A. Abla

OBJECTIVE

Cerebral bypass procedures are microsurgical techniques to augment or restore cerebral blood flow when treating a number of brain vascular diseases including moyamoya disease, occlusive vascular disease, and cerebral aneurysms. With advances in endovascular therapy and evolving evidence-based guidelines, it has been suggested that cerebral bypass procedures are in a state of decline. Here, the authors characterize the national trends in cerebral bypass surgery in the United States from 2002 to 2014.

METHODS

Using the National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample, the authors extracted for analysis the data on all adult patients who had undergone cerebral bypass as indicated by ICD-9-CM procedure code 34.28. Indications for bypass procedures, patient demographics, healthcare costs, and regional variations are described. Results were stratified by indication for cerebral bypass including moyamoya disease, occlusive vascular disease, and cerebral aneurysms. Predictors of inpatient complications and death were evaluated using multivariable logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS

From 2002 to 2014, there was an increase in the annual number of cerebral bypass surgeries performed in the United States. This increase reflected a growth in the number of cerebral bypass procedures performed for adult moyamoya disease, whereas cases performed for occlusive vascular disease or cerebral aneurysms declined. Inpatient complication rates for cerebral bypass performed for moyamoya disease, vascular occlusive disease, and cerebral aneurysm were 13.2%, 25.1%, and 56.3%, respectively. Rates of iatrogenic stroke ranged from 3.8% to 20.4%, and mortality rates were 0.3%, 1.4%, and 7.8% for moyamoya disease, occlusive vascular disease, and cerebral aneurysms, respectively. Multivariate logistic regression confirmed that cerebral bypass for vascular occlusive disease or cerebral aneurysm is a statistically significant predictor of inpatient complications and death. Mean healthcare costs of cerebral bypass remained unchanged from 2002 to 20014 and varied with treatment indication: moyamoya disease $38,406 ± $483, vascular occlusive disease $46,618 ± $774, and aneurysm $111,753 ± $2381.

CONCLUSIONS

The number of cerebral bypass surgeries performed for adult revascularization has increased in the United States from 2002 to 2014. Rising rates of surgical bypass reflect a greater proportion of surgeries performed for moyamoya disease, whereas bypasses performed for vascular occlusive disease and aneurysms are decreasing. Despite evolving indications, cerebral bypass remains an important surgical tool in the modern endovascular era and may be increasing in use. Stagnant complication rates highlight the need for continued interest in advancing available bypass techniques or technologies to improve patient outcomes.

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Adib A. Abla, William Caleb Rutledge, Zachary A. Seymour, Diana Guo, Helen Kim, Nalin Gupta, Penny K. Sneed, Igor J. Barani, David Larson, Michael W. McDermott and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECT

The surgical treatment of many large arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) is associated with substantial risks, and many are considered inoperable. Furthermore, AVMs larger than 3 cm in diameter are not usually treated with conventional single-session radiosurgery encompassing the entire AVM volume. Volume-staged stereotactic radiosurgery (VS-SRS) is an option for large AVMs, but it has mixed results. The authors report on a series of patients with high-grade AVMs who underwent multiple VS-SRS sessions with resultant downgrading of the AVMs, followed by resection.

METHODS

A cohort of patients was retrieved from a single-institution AVM patient registry consisting of prospectively collected data. VS-SRS was performed as a planned intentional treatment. Surgery was considered as salvage therapy in select patients.

RESULTS

Sixteen AVMs underwent VS-SRS followed by surgery. Four AVMs presented with rupture. The mean patient age was 25.3 years (range 13–54 years). The average initial Spetzler-Martin grade before any treatment was 4, while the average supplemented Spetzler-Martin grade (Spetzler-Martin plus Lawton-Young) was 7.1. The average AVM size in maximum dimension was 5.9 cm (range 3.3–10 cm). All AVMs were supratentorial in location and all except one were in eloquent areas of the brain, with 7 involving primary motor cortex. The mean number of VS-SRS sessions was 2.7 (range 2–5 sessions). The mean interval between first VS-SRS session and resection was 5.7 years. There were 4 hemorrhages that occurred after VS-SRS. The average Spetzler-Martin grade was reduced to 2.5 (downgrade, −1.5) and the average supplemented Spetzler-Martin grade was reduced to 5.6 (downgrade, −1.5). The maximum AVM size was reduced to an average of 3.0 cm (downsize = −2.9 cm). The mean modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores were 1.2, 2.3, and 2.2 before VS-SRS, before surgery, and at last follow-up, respectively (mean follow-up, 6.9 years). Fifteen AVMs were cured after surgery. Ten patients had good outcomes at last follow-up (7 with mRS Score 0 or 1, and 3 with mRS Score 2). There were 2 deaths (both mRS Score 1 before treatment) and 4 patients with mRS Score 3 outcome (from mRS Scores 0, 1, and 2 [n = 2]).

CONCLUSIONS

Volume-staged SRS can downgrade AVMs, transforming high-grade AVMs (initially considered inoperable) into operable AVMs with acceptable surgical risks. This treatment paradigm offers an alternative to conservative observation for young patients with unruptured AVMs and long life expectancy, where the risk of hemorrhage is substantial. Difficult AVMs were cured in 15 patients. Surgical morbidity associated with downgraded AVMs is reduced to that of postradiosurgical/preoperative supplemented Spetzler-Martin grades, not their initial AVM grades.

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Ethan A. Winkler, Harjus Birk, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Xiaolin Chen, John K. Yue, Diana Guo, W. Caleb Rutledge, George F. Lasker, Carlene Partow, Tarik Tihan, Edward F. Chang, Hua Su, Helen Kim, Brian P. Walcott and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs) are rupture-prone tangles of blood vessels with direct shunting of blood flow between arterial and venous circulations. The molecular and/or cellular mechanisms contributing to bAVM pathogenesis and/or destabilization in sporadic lesions have remained elusive. Initial insights into AVM formation have been gained through models of genetic AVM syndromes. And while many studies have focused on endothelial cells, the contributions of other vascular cell types have yet to be systematically studied. Pericytes are multifunctional mural cells that regulate brain angiogenesis, blood-brain barrier integrity, and vascular stability. Here, the authors analyze the abundance of brain pericytes and their association with vascular changes in sporadic human AVMs.

METHODS

Tissues from bAVMs and from temporal lobe specimens from patients with medically intractable epilepsy (nonvascular lesion controls [NVLCs]) were resected. Immunofluorescent staining with confocal microscopy was performed to quantify pericytes (platelet-derived growth factor receptor–beta [PDGFRβ] and aminopeptidase N [CD13]) and extravascular hemoglobin. Iron-positive hemosiderin deposits were quantified with Prussian blue staining. Syngo iFlow post–image processing was used to measure nidal blood flow on preintervention angiograms.

RESULTS

Quantitative immunofluorescent analysis demonstrated a 68% reduction in the vascular pericyte number in bAVMs compared with the number in NVLCs (p < 0.01). Additional analysis demonstrated 52% and 50% reductions in the vascular surface area covered by CD13- and PDGFRβ-positive pericyte cell processes, respectively, in bAVMs (p < 0.01). Reductions in pericyte coverage were statistically significantly greater in bAVMs with prior rupture (p < 0.05). Unruptured bAVMs had increased microhemorrhage, as evidenced by a 15.5-fold increase in extravascular hemoglobin compared with levels in NVLCs (p < 0.01). Within unruptured bAVM specimens, extravascular hemoglobin correlated negatively with pericyte coverage (CD13: r = −0.93, p < 0.01; PDGFRβ: r = −0.87, p < 0.01). A similar negative correlation was observed with pericyte coverage and Prussian blue–positive hemosiderin deposits (CD13: r = −0.90, p < 0.01; PDGFRβ: r = −0.86, p < 0.01). Pericyte coverage positively correlated with the mean transit time of blood flow or the time that circulating blood spends within the bAVM nidus (CD13: r = 0.60, p < 0.05; PDGFRβ: r = 0.63, p < 0.05). A greater reduction in pericyte coverage is therefore associated with a reduced mean transit time or faster rate of blood flow through the bAVM nidus. No correlations were observed with time to peak flow within feeding arteries or draining veins.

CONCLUSIONS

Brain pericyte number and coverage are reduced in sporadic bAVMs and are lowest in cases with prior rupture. In unruptured bAVMs, pericyte reductions correlate with the severity of microhemorrhage. A loss of pericytes also correlates with a faster rate of blood flow through the bAVM nidus. This suggests that pericytes are associated with and may contribute to vascular fragility and hemodynamic changes in bAVMs. Future studies in animal models are needed to better characterize the role of pericytes in AVM pathogenesis.