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Andrew P. Carlson, Christopher L. Taylor and Howard Yonas

Object

A dural arteriovenous fistula (DAVF) typically involves meningeal feeding arteries and can cause clinical symptoms ranging from tinnitus to rupture of draining cortical or parenchymal veins. Surgical treatment may be technically demanding. Ethylene vinyl alcohol (Onyx, ev3 Neurovascular) has several properties that make it potentially useful as a primary treatment agent for DAVF. Onyx is expected to be a permanent embolic agent. It should have a decreased risk of catheter retention when compared with other permanent embolic materials.

Methods

The authors report a series of six patients with symptomatic DAVF who were treated initially with transarterial Onyx embolization and other endovascular techniques.

Results

Five patients had complete occlusion of their DAVF noted on the follow-up angiogram obtained between 2 and 4 months. One patient had residual filling via a small arterial branch that was stable on follow-up angiography. None of the patients had worsening of neurological function. One case was complicated by a retained catheter fragment.

Conclusions

Transarterial Onyx embolization and other endovascular methods can angiographically obliterate DAVF. In some cases, embolization allowed occlusion of multiple arterial feeding arteries from a single arterial injection. Technically, the embolization was optimized when a microcatheter position immediately adjacent to the point(s) of fistulization was achieved.

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Roberto C. Heros

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Christopher L. Taylor, Zhong Yuan, Warren R. Selman, Robert A. Ratcheson and Alfred A. Rimm

✓ Cerebral arterial aneurysms are common in the general population and their rupture is a catastrophic event. Considerable uncertainty remains concerning the conditions that predispose individuals to aneurysm formation or rupture. The role of systemic hypertension in aneurysm formation and rupture has been especially controversial. Demographic variables have rarely been addressed because of the small sample sizes in previous studies. The authors describe the demographics and prevalence of hypertension in 20,767 Medicare patients with an unruptured aneurysm and compare these to a random sample of the hospitalized Medicare population. The prevalence of hypertension in patients with unruptured aneurysms was 43.2% compared with 34.4% in the random sample.

Patients who survived their initial hospitalization were separated into two groups: those with an unruptured cerebral aneurysm as the primary diagnosis and those with an unruptured cerebral aneurysm as a secondary diagnosis. Follow-up data for 18,119 patients were examined to determine the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) associated with age, gender, race, hypertension, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and surgical treatment. For patients with an unruptured cerebral aneurysm as the primary diagnosis, hypertension was found to be a significant risk factor for future SAH (risk ratio: 1.46, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01–2.11), whereas surgical treatment (risk ratio: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.09–0.97) had a significant protective effect. Advancing age had a small but significant protective effect in both groups.

Elderly patients identified with unruptured aneurysms are more likely to have coexisting hypertension than the general hospitalized population. In elderly patients hospitalized with an unruptured cerebral aneurysm as their primary diagnosis, hypertension is a risk factor for subsequent SAH, whereas surgical treatment is a protective factor against SAH.

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Frank L. Acosta Jr., Henry E. Aryan, William R. Taylor and Christopher P. Ames

Object

Surgical intervention for thoracolumbar burst fractures is indicated for patients with neurological deficits and/or evidence of severe spinal instability. The goals of surgery are decompression, deformity correction, and stabilization. Nevertheless, the optimal surgical strategy to achieve these goals remains a subject of debate. Short-segment pedicle screw fixation is associated with a 20 to 50% incidence of pedicle screw failure and progressive spinal deformity. Initial biomechanical and clinical studies have shown that reinforcement of short-segment pedicle screw fixation with vertebroplasty improves spinal stability and decreases instrument failure rates. In this study, the authors describe their initial clinical experience with kyphoplasty used to augment short-segment pedicle screw fixation of traumatic lumbar burst fractures.

Methods

Five patients with traumatic burst fractures of the lumbar spine were included in this retrospective review of patients treated for this disorder at the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, San Francisco between 2002 and 2004. All patients underwent transpedicular kyphoplasty and short-segment pedicle screw fixation. The mean follow-up period was 10.6 months (range 6–18 months). All patients underwent short-segment pedicle screw fixation reinforced with polymethyl methacrylate kyphoplasty. The preoperative, postoperative, and follow-up plain x-ray films were evaluated. Radiographic analysis included measurements of kyphotic angulation, anterior vertebral body height, and evidence of bone fusion. Clinical evaluation was performed postoperatively and at follow-up review.

Conclusions

Based on the authors' initial experience, kyphoplasty supplementation may improve the long-term integrity of short-segment pedicle screw constructs and allow for improved rates of fusion and better clinical outcomes in patients with traumatic lumbar burst fractures.

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Christopher L. Taylor, Zhong Yuan, Warren R. Selman, Robert A. Ratcheson and Alfred A. Rimm

The risk of disability and death and the cost of medical care are particularly high for patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who are 65 years of age or older. A retrospective analysis of 47,408 Medicare patients treated over an 8-year period was performed to determine whether a relationship exists between the mortality rate and surgical volume for older patients with SAH. The mortality rate, length of stay in the hospital, and cost of treatment for patients with SAH in California and New York were also compared. The mortality rate was 14.3% for patients with SAH who were 65 years old or older and who were treated surgically in hospitals in which an average of five or more craniotomies were performed per year; in hospitals averaging between one and five craniotomies annually the mortality rate was 18.4%; and in those averaging less than one such operation per year the rate was 20.5% (trend p = 0.01). There was no difference in the mortality rate for patients in California versus the rate for those in New York. Surgically and medically treated patients, respectively, left the hospital an average of 6.7 and 5.1 days sooner in California than in New York. The unadjusted average reimbursement from Medicare to hospitals for surgically treated patients averaged $1468 more in New York than in California (p < 0.0001), but was equivalent for medically treated patients in the two states. The mortality rate in older patients who are treated surgically for SAH may be inversely correlated with the annual number of craniotomies performed for SAH in patients 65 years of age or older at a given institution. Hospital stays for patients with SAH are significantly shorter in California than in New York.

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Christopher L. Taylor, Zhong Yuan, Warren R. Selman, Robert A. Ratcheson and Alfred A. Rimm

✓ The risk of disability and death and the cost of medical care are particularly high for patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who are 65 years of age or older. A retrospective analysis of 47,408 Medicare patients treated over an 8-year period was performed to determine whether a relationship exists between the mortality rate and surgical volume for older patients with SAH. The mortality rate, length of stay in the hospital, and cost of treatment for patients with SAH in California and New York state were also compared. The mortality rate was 14.3% for patients with SAH who were 65 years old or older and who were treated surgically in hospitals in which an average of five or more craniotomies were performed per year; in hospitals averaging between one and five craniotomies annually the mortality rate was 18.4%; and in those averaging less than one such operation per year the rate was 20.5% (trend p = 0.01). There was no difference in the mortality rate for patients in California versus the rate for those in New York. Surgically and medically treated patients, respectively, left the hospital an average of 6.7 and 5.1 days sooner in California than in New York. The unadjusted average reimbursement from Medicare to hospitals for surgically treated patients averaged $1468 more in New York than in California (p < 0.0001), but was equivalent for medically treated patients in the two states. The mortality rate in older patients who are treated surgically for SAH may be inversely correlated with the annual number of craniotomies performed for SAH in patients 65 years of age or older at a given institution. Hospital stays for patients with SAH are significantly shorter in California than in New York.

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Christopher L. Taylor, Debra Steele, Thomas A. Kopitnik Jr., Duke S. Samson and Phillip D. Purdy

Object. A case-control analysis of patients with SAH was performed to compare risk factors and outcomes at 6 months posthemorrhage in patients with a very small aneurysm compared with those with a larger aneurysm.

Methods. All patients with SAH who were treated between January 1998 and December 1999 were studied. A very small aneurysm was defined as “equal to or less than 5 mm in diameter.” Clinical data and treatment summaries were maintained in an electronic database. The Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score was determined by an independent registrar.

One hundred twenty-seven patients were treated. A very small aneurysm was the cause of SAH in 42 patients (33%), whereas 85 (67%) had aneurysms larger than 5 mm (mean diameter 11 mm). There were no differences in demographic variables or medical comorbidities between the two groups. Thick SAH (Fisher Grade 3 or 4) was more common in patients with a very small aneurysm than in those with a larger aneurysm (p = 0.028). One hundred eight patients underwent microsurgery (85%), 15 underwent coil embolization (12%), and four (3%) required both procedures. Vasospasm occurred in nine patients (21%) with very small aneurysms compared with 14 (16%) with larger aneurysms (p = 0.62). Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus occurred in nine patients (21%) with very small aneurysms and in 19 (22%) with larger aneurysms (p = 1). The mean GOS score for both groups was 4 (moderately disabled) at 6 months.

Conclusions. Small aneurysms produce thick SAH more often than larger aneurysms. There is no difference in outcome after SAH between patients with a very small aneurysm and those with a larger aneurysm.

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Christopher L. Taylor, Thomas A. Kopitnik Jr., Duke S. Samson and Phillip D. Purdy

Object. The records of 30 patients with posterior cerebral artery (PCA) aneurysms treated during a 12-year period were reviewed to determine outcome and the risk of visual field deficit associated with PCA sacrifice.

Methods. Clinical data and treatment summaries for all patients were maintained in an electronic database. The Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) and modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores were determined by an independent registrar. Visual field changes were determined by review of medical records. Twenty-eight patients were treated with open surgery, one of them after an attempt at detachable coil embolization failed. Two patients underwent successful endovascular PCA sacrifice.

The mean GOS and mRS scores in 18 patients with unruptured aneurysms were 4 and 2, respectively, at discharge. Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) from other aneurysms and neurological deficits caused by the PCA lesion or underlying disease contributed to poor outcomes in this group. The mean GOS and mRS scores in 12 patients with ruptured aneurysms were 4 and 4, respectively, at discharge. One patient died of severe vasospasm. Neurological deficits secondary to SAH and, in one patient, treatment of a concomitant arteriovenous malformation contributed to poor outcomes in the patients with ruptured aneurysms. Seven patients with normal visual function preoperatively underwent PCA occlusion. One patient (14%) developed a new visual field deficit.

Conclusions. Optimal treatment of PCA aneurysms is performed via one of several surgical approaches or by endovascular therapy. The approach is determined, in part, by the anatomical location and size of the aneurysm and the presence of underlying disease and neurological deficits.

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Paul Klimo Jr., L. Madison Michael II, Garrett T. Venable and Douglas R. Taylor