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The Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial

Giuseppe Lanzino

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Bradley A. Gross, Felipe C. Albuquerque, Karam Moon, and Cameron G. McDougall


Many small series and technical reports chronicle the evolution of endovascular techniques for cranial dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVFs) over the past 3 decades, but reports of large patient series are lacking. The authors provide a thorough analysis of clinical and angiographic outcomes across a large patient cohort.


The authors reviewed their endovascular database from January 1996 to September 2015 to identify patients harboring cranial dAVFs who were treated initially with endovascular approaches. They extracted demographic, presentation, angiographic, detailed treatment, and long-term follow-up data, and they evaluated natural history, initial angiographic occlusion, complications, recurrence, and symptomatic resolution rates.


Across a cohort of 251 patients with 260 distinct dAVFs, the overall initial angiographic occlusion rate was 70%; recurrence or occult residual lesions were seen on subsequent angiography in 3% of cases. The overall complication rate was 8%, with permanent neurological complications occurring in 3% of cases. Among 102 patients with dAVFs without cortical venous reflux, rates of resolution/improvement of pulsatile tinnitus and ocular symptoms were 79% and 78%, respectively. Following the introduction of Onyx during the latter half of the study period, the number of treated dAVFs doubled; the initial angiographic occlusion rate increased significantly from 60% before the use of Onyx to 76% after (p = 0.01). In addition, during the latter period compared with the pre-Onyx period, the rate of dAVFs obliterated via a transarterial-only approach was significantly greater (43% vs 23%, p = 0.002), as was the number of dAVFs obliterated via a single arterial pedicle (29% vs 11%, p = 0.002).


Overall, in the Onyx era, the rate of initial angiographic occlusion was approximately 80%, as was the rate of meaningful clinical improvement in tinnitus and/or ocular symptoms after initial endovascular treatment of cranial dAVFs.

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Ruth E. Bristol, Felipe C. Albuquerque, and Cameron G. McDougall

✓ Endovascular therapy for arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) remains a relatively new approach. Beginning in the 1960s with the use of flow-directed techniques for selective embolization, hemodynamic alterations have been used to treat these lesions. In every aspect of treatment, technological advances, including catheters, embolic materials, angiography suites, and pharmacological agents, have improved outcomes while lowering the risk to patients.

In this article, the authors review the technical evolution of endovascular AVM therapy. Developments in embolic materials, beginning with foreign bodies and autografts and continuing through to highly engineered contemporary substances, are discussed. Finally, changes in treatment paradigms that have occurred over the years are traced. Within neurosurgery, this specialty has shown some of the fastest growth and development in recent decades. As minimally invasive approaches are embraced in all areas of medicine, it is clear that this treatment modality will continue to be refined.

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C. Benjamin Newman, Yin C. Hu, Cameron G. McDougall, and Felipe C. Albuquerque


Pial arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) of the brain are rare vascular malformations associated with significant risks of hemorrhage and neurological deficit. Depending on their location and high-flow dynamics, these lesions can present treatment challenges for both endovascular and open cerebrovascular surgeons. The authors describe a novel endovascular treatment strategy that was used successfully to treat 2 pediatric patients with a pial AVF, and they discuss the technical nuances specific to their treatment strategy.


A single-channel high-flow pial AVF was diagnosed in 2 male patients (6 and 17 years of age). Both patients were treated with endovascular flow arrest using a highly conformable balloon followed by Onyx infusion for definitive closure of the fistula.


Neither patient suffered a complication as a result of the procedure. At the 6-month follow-up in both cases, the simple discontinuation of blood flow had resulted in durable obliteration of the fistula and stable or improved neurological function.


Onyx can be delivered successfully into high-flow lesions after flow arrest to allow a minimally invasive and durable treatment for pial AVFs.

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Wouter I. Schievink, A. Giancarlo Vishteh, Cameron G. McDougall, and Robert F. Spetzler

Object. The use of intraoperative angiography of the spine has become available to neurosurgeons as an adjunct in the management of complex spinal vascular malformations. These vascular malformations are rare, and the use of intraoperative angiography of the spine has not been well described. The authors report their recent experience with the use of this diagnostic modality.

Methods. Between 1995 and 1997, nine consecutive patients with type II or Type IV spinal arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) underwent intraoperative spinal angiography. The cervical spine was involved in three patients, the thoracic spine in five, and the thoracolumbar junction in one. In three patients, intraoperative spinal angiography revealed an unexpected finding (residual filling of the AVM). The results obtained using postoperative spinal angiography in all patients showed complete agreement with the intraoperative studies. No complications arose from obtaining the intraoperative spinal angiograms.

Conclusions. Intraoperative spinal angiography is technically feasible, can be performed safely, and has adequate resolution. It detects unexpected residual AVM in one-third of cases.

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Tim E. Darsaut and Jean Raymond

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Richard W. Williamson, David A. Wilson, Adib A. Abla, Cameron G. McDougall, Peter Nakaji, Felipe C. Albuquerque, and Robert F. Spetzler


Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) from ruptured posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) aneurysms is uncommon, and long-term outcome data for patients who have suffered such hemorrhages is lacking. This study investigated in-hospital and long-term clinical data from a prospective cohort of patients with SAH from ruptured PICA aneurysms enrolled in a randomized trial; their outcomes were compared with those of SAH patients who were treated for other types of ruptured intracranial aneurysms. The authors hypothesize that PICA patients fare worse than those with aneurysms in other locations and this difference is related to the high rate of lower cranial nerve dysfunction in PICA patients.


The authors analyzed data for 472 patients enrolled in the Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial (BRAT) and retrospectively reviewed vasospasm data not collected prospectively. In the initial cohort, 57 patients were considered angiographically negative for aneurysmal SAH source and did not receive treatment for aneurysms, leaving 415 patients with aneurysmal SAH.


Of 415 patients with aneurysmal SAH, 22 (5.3%) harbored a ruptured PICA aneurysm. Eight of them had dissecting/fusiform-type aneurysms while 14 had saccular-type aneurysms. Nineteen PICA patients were treated with clipping (1 crossover from coiling), 2 were treated with coiling, and 1 died before treatment. When comparing PICA patients to all other aneurysm patients in the study cohort, there were no statistically significant differences in age (mean 57.6 ± 11.8 vs 53.9 ± 11.8 years, p = 0.17), Hunt and Hess grade median III [IQR II–IV] vs III [IQR II–III], p = 0.15), Fisher grade median 3 [IQR 3–3] vs 3 [IQR 3–3], p = 0.53), aneurysm size (mean 6.2 ± 3.0 vs 6.7 ± 4.0 mm, p = 0.55), radiographic vasospasm (53% vs 50%, p = 0.88), or clinical vasospasm (12% vs 23%, p = 0.38). PICA patients were more likely to have a fusiform aneurysm (36% vs 12%, p = 0.004) and had a higher incidence of lower cranial nerve dysfunction and higher rate of tracheostomy/percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy placement compared with non-PICA patients (50% vs 16%, p < 0.001). PICA patients had a significantly higher incidence of poor outcome at discharge (91% vs 67%, p = 0.017), 1-year follow-up (63% vs 29%, p = 0.002), and 3-year follow-up (63% vs 32%, p = 0.006).


Patients with ruptured PICA aneurysms had a similar rate of radiographic vasospasm, equivalent admission Fisher grade and Hunt and Hess scores, but poorer clinical outcomes at discharge and at 1- and 3-year follow-up when compared with the rest of the BRAT SAH patients with ruptured aneurysms. The PICA's location at the medulla and the resultant high rate of lower cranial nerve dysfunction may play a role in the poor outcome for these patients. Furthermore, PICA aneurysms were more likely to be fusiform than saccular, compared with non-PICA aneurysms; the complex nature of these aneurysms may also contribute to their poorer outcome.