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Cole A. Giller and Jeffrey A. Fiedler


Gamma Knife (GK) treatments are typically delivered in 1 day with little opportunity to test different planning strategies. The authors demonstrate 2 methods for imposing GK coordinate systems upon imaging datasets without frame attachment to allow leisurely preprocedural planning, and discuss potential applications.


A “virtual framing” is constructed by coregistering a CT scan of a Leksell frame with a patient dataset using the GammaPlan (Multiview) module. Equations for skull radii are derived by approximating the skull as an ellipsoid. No proprietary software other than that of the GK system is required. In a second method, images of fiducial markers are directly superimposed on the patient dataset. Validation of the first method was achieved by comparing the lengths of 75 line segments and 60 single shot diameters measured in the virtual coordinates with those measured in real coordinates. In addition to preplanning, 2 applications are discussed. The first is the use of GK software to aid radiosurgical planning for other devices. The second is the use of virtual framing to enhance automatic optimization algorithms.


Mean (± standard deviation) and root-mean-square differences in lengths were 0.18 ± 0.32 and 0.37 mm. Mean and root-mean-square differences in diameters of single-shot plans were 0.01 ± 0.18 and 0.18 mm.


Virtual framing allows exploration of radiosurgical planning strategies prior to the day of treatment using only the GK software. Other applications include enhancement of radiosurgical planning for other systems and enhancement of optimization algorithms.

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Cole A. Giller, Maureen Johns and Hanli Liu

✓ Localization of targets during stereotactic surgery is frequently accomplished by identification of the boundaries between the gray matter of various nuclei and the surrounding white matter. The authors describe an intracranial probe developed for this purpose, which uses near-infrared (NIR) light.

The probe fits through standard stereotactic holders and emits light at its tip. The scattered light is detected and analyzed by a spectrometer, with the slope of the trailing portion of the reflectance curve used as the measurement value.

Near-infrared readings were obtained during 27 neurosurgical procedures. The first three operations were temporal lobectomies, with values obtained from tracks in the resected specimen and resection bed. In the next five procedures, the probe was inserted stereotactically to a depth of 1 to 2 cm with measurements obtained every 1 mm. The probe was then used in 19 stereotactic procedures for movement disorders, obtaining measurements every 0.5 to 1 mm to target depths of 6 to 8 cm to interrogate subcortical structures. The NIR signals were correlated to distances beneath the cortical surface measured on postoperative computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging by using angle correction and three-dimensional reconstruction techniques.

The NIR values for white and gray matter obtained during the lobectomies were significantly different (white matter 2.5 ± 0.37, gray matter 0.82 ± 0.23 mean ± standard deviation). The NIR values from the superficial stereotactic tracks showed initial low values corresponding to cortical gray matter and high values corresponding to subcortical white matter.

There was good correlation between the NIR signals and postoperative imaging in the 19 stereotactic cases. Dips due to adjacent sulci, a plateau of high signal due to subcortical white matter, a dip in the NIR signal during passage through the ventricle, dips due to the caudate nucleus, and peaks due to the white matter capsule between ventricle and thalamus were constant features. The putamen—capsule boundary and the lamina externa and interna of the globus pallidus could be distinguished in three cases. Elevated signals corresponding to the thalamic floor were seen in 10 cases. Nuances such as prior lesions and nonspecific white matter changes were also detected. There was no incidence of morbidity associated with use of the probe. Data acquisition was straightforward and the equipment required for the studies was inexpensive.

The NIR probe described in this article seems to be able to detect gray—white matter boundaries around and within subcortical structures commonly encountered in stereotactic functional neurosurgery. This simple, inexpensive method deserves further study to establish its efficacy for stereotactic localization.

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Cole A. Giller, Kurt Hodges and H. Hunt Batjer

✓ Although blood velocity in the major intracranial vessels is readily measured with transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD), the interpretation of velocity changes is by no means straightforward. For example, a velocity increase can arise from either a local stenosis or a decrease in downstream resistance, and these mechanisms have contradictory implications for blood flow. To determine whether TCD pulsatility might distinguish these two mechanisms, Doppler ultrasonic readings were taken from an artificial vascular model under conditions of either stenosis or distal dilation. In addition, TCD studies of nine patients with unihemispheric arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) and 16 TCD studies of seven patients with unihemispheric aneurysmal vasospasm were reviewed, and pulsatilities of the AVM's (representing decreased resistance) were compared with those of the vasospastic vessels (representing stenosis).

The average percentage drop in pulsatility in the vasodilated configuration of the model/percentage increase in velocity was 0.38 ± 0.08 (± standard error of the mean), while that for stenosis was 0.20 ± 0.01. Similar comparisons of the patient population yielded 0.67 ± 0.16 for the AVM group and 0.26 ± 0.04 for the vasospasm group. These differences were significant (p < 0.05). The fall in pulsatility associated with a given increase in velocity is significantly greater when the velocity increase arises from diminished downstream resistance than from stenosis.

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Cole A. Giller, Patrick Mornet and Jean-François Moreau

Although image-based human stereotaxis began with Spiegel and Wycis in 1947, the major principles of radiographic stereotaxis were formulated 50 years earlier by the French scientific photographer Gaston Contremoulins. In 1897, frustrated by the high morbidity of bullet extraction from the brain, the Parisian surgeon Charles Rémy asked Contremoulins to devise a method for bullet localization using the then new technology of x-rays. In doing so, Contremoulins conceived of many of the modern principles of stereotaxis, including the use of a reference frame, radiopaque fiducials for registration, images to locate the target in relation to the frame, phantom devices to locate the target in relation to the fiducial marks, and the use of an adjustable pointer to guide the surgical approach.

Contremoulins' ideas did not emerge from science or medicine, but instead were inspired by his training in the fine arts. Had he been a physician instead of an artist, he might have never discovered his extraordinary methods.

Contremoulins' “compass” and its variants enjoyed great success during World War I, but were abandoned by 1920 for simpler methods. Although Contremoulins was one of the most eminent radiographers in France, he was not a physician, and his personality was uncompromising. By 1940, both he and his methods were forgotten. It was not until 1988 that he was rediscovered by Moreau while reviewing the history of French radiology, and chronicled by Mornet in his extensive biography.

The authors examine Contremoulins' stereotactic methods in historical context, describe the details of his devices, relate his discoveries to his training in the fine arts, and discuss how his prescient formulation of stereotaxis was forgotten for more than half a century.

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Cole A. Giller, Evelyn E. Babcock and Dianne B. Mendelsohn

✓ Direct observation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is not always possible, and physicians at many centers rely on indirect methods that relate the position of the STN to more easily recognized structures such as the red nucleus (RN). In this paper the authors describe an indirect method of viewing the STN based on the anatomy depicted on sagittal magnetic resonance (MR) images.

A review of sagittal slices appearing in standard stereotactic atlases showed that the STN lies within the angle formed by the descending internal capsule (IC) and the substantia nigra (SN). The authors' technique consists of marking the location of the STN in this nigrocapsular angle on each sagittal MR image between the RN and the lateral border of the brainstem, and transferring these points to axial MR images to build a locus of points used to describe the STN. A point is chosen in the center of this locus as the stereotactic target.

Two hundred eighty-two sagittal images obtained from 71 MR imaging studies performed in 29 patients by using a fast—spin echo inversion-recovery technique were examined for the presence of the STN, the SN, and the IC. The descending IC could be detected in 97% of the slices, the SN in 95% of the slices, and the STN in 73% of the slices. This indirect method involving sagittal anatomy can be used to refine localization of the STN.

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H. Hunt Batjer, Thomas A. Kopitnik, Cole A. Giller and Duke S. Samson

✓ Aneurysms arising from the proximal carotid artery between the roof of the cavernous sinus and the origin of the posterior communicating artery pose conceptual and technical surgical problems with regard to acquisition of proximal control and safe intracranial exposure. Over the past 3½ years, 89 patients with paraclinoidal aneurysms have been treated at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Thirty-nine (44%) of these patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage. A total of 149 aneurysms and six arteriovenous malformations have been identified in this patient group such that 38 (43%) of the patients suffered multiple vascular anomalies. Temporary artery occlusion has been employed during operation in 48 cases (54%), permanent carotid artery occlusion in four (4%), and hypothermic circulatory arrest in two (2%). Twenty-two patients harbored giant aneurysms, seven of which had ruptured. Outcome was considered good in 77 patients (86.5%), fair in eight (9%), and poor in three (3%); one patient died.

This concentrated experience permitted a practical anatomical grouping of aneurysms into three types: carotid-ophthalmic artery aneurysms with a superior or superomedial projection (44 cases); superior hypophyseal aneurysms with a medial or inferomedial projection (26 cases); and proximal posterior carotid artery wall aneurysms projecting posteriorly or posterolaterally (19 cases). Despite the fact that paraclinoidal aneurysms often disobey the traditional teachings of aneurysm development, having no vessel of origin or clear hemodynamic cause, this practical grouping has allowed individualized and focused operative approaches unique to each aneurysm projection with good visual function and outcome in most patients.

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Cole A. Giller, Hanli Liu, Prem Gurnani, Sundar Victor, Umar Yazdani and Dwight C. German

Object. The authors have developed an intracranial near-infrared (NIR) probe that analyzes the scattering of light emitted from its tip to measure the optical properties of cerebral tissue. Despite its success in distinguishing gray matter from white matter in humans during stereotactic surgery, the limits of this instrument's resolution remain unclear. In this study, the authors determined the spatial resolution of this new probe by using a rodent model supplemented with phantom measurements and computer simulation.

Methods. A phantom consisting of Intralipid and gelatin was constructed to resemble a layer of white matter overlying a layer of gray matter. Near-infrared measurements were obtained as the probe was inserted through the gray—white matter transition. A computer simulation of NIR measurements through a gray—white matter transition was also performed using Monte Carlo techniques. The NIR probe was then used to study 19 tracks from the cortical surface through the corpus callosum in an in vivo rodent preparation. The animals were killed and histological sections through the tracks were obtained.

Data from the phantom models and computer simulations showed that the NIR probe samples a volume of tissue extending 1 to 1.5 mm in front of the probe tip (this distance is termed the “lookthrough” distance). Measurements obtained from an NIR probe passing through a thin layer of white matter consisted of an initial segment of increasing values, a maximum (peak) value, and a trailing segment of decreasing values. The length of the initial segment is the lookthrough distance, the position of the peak indicates the location of the superficial white matter boundary, and the length of the trailing segment is the thickness of the layer.

These considerations were confirmed in experiments with rodents. All tracks passed through the corpus callosum, which was demonstrated as a broad peak on each NIR graph. The position of the dorsal boundary of the corpus callosum and its width (based on histological measurements) correlated well with the peak of the NIR curve and its trailing segment, respectively. The initial segments correlated well with estimates of the lookthrough distance. Five of the tracks transected the smaller anterior commissure (diameter 0.2 mm), producing a narrow NIR peak at the correct depth.

Conclusions. Data in this study confirm that the NIR probe can reliably detect and measure the thickness of layers of white matter as thin as 0.2 mm. Such resolution should be adequate to detect larger structures of interest encountered during stereotactic surgery in humans.

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Cole A. Giller, Hanli Liu, Dwight C. German, Dheerendra Kashyap and Richard B. Dewey Jr


The authors previously developed an optical stereotactic probe employing near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to provide intraoperative localization by distinguishing gray matter from white matter. In the current study they extend and further validate this technology.


Near-infrared probes were inserted 203 times during 138 procedures for movement disorders. Detailed validation with postoperative imaging was obtained for 121 of these procedures and with microelectrode recording (MER) for 30 procedures. Probes were constructed to interrogate tissue perpendicular to the probe path and to incorporate hollow channels for microelectrodes, deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrodes, and other payloads.


The NIR data were highly correlated to imaging and MER recordings for thalamic targets. The NIR data were highly sensitive but less specific relative to imaging for subthalamic targets, confirming the ability to detect the subthalamic nucleus and to provide warnings of inaccurate localization. The difference between the NIR- and MER-detected midpoints of the subthalamic nucleus along the chosen tracks was 1.1 ± 1.2 mm (SD). Data obtained during insertion and withdrawal of the NIR probe suggested that DBS electrodes may push their targets ahead of their paths. There was one symptomatic morbidity. Detailed NIR data could be obtained from a 7-cm track in less than 10 minutes.


The NIR probe is a straightforward, quick, and robust tool for intraoperative localization during functional neurosurgery. Potential future applications include localization of targets for epilepsy and psychiatric disorders, and incorporation of NIR guidance into probes designed to convey various payloads.

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Cole A. Giller, Benjamin D. Levine, Yves Meyer, Jay C. Buckey, Lynda D. Lane and D. John Borchers

✓ Although severe hypovolemia can lead to hypotension and neurological decline, many patients with neurosurgical disorders experience a significant hypovolemia while autonomic compensatory mechanisms maintain a normal blood pressure. To assess the effects of normotensive hypovolemia upon cerebral hemodynamics, transcranial Doppler ultrasound monitoring of 13 healthy volunteers was performed during graded lower-body negative pressure of up to −50 mm Hg, an accepted laboratory model for reproducing the physiological effects of hypovolemia. Middle cerebral artery flow velocity declined by 16% ± 4% (mean ± standard error of the mean) and the ratio between transcranial Doppler ultrasound pulsatility and systemic pulsatility rose 22% ± 8%, suggesting cerebral small-vessel vasoconstriction in response to the sympathetic activation unmasked by lower-body negative pressure. This vasoconstriction may interfere with the autoregulatory response to a sudden fall in blood pressure, and may explain the common observation of neurological deficit during hypovolemia even with a normal blood pressure.

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Cole A. Giller, Dana Mathews, Brandy Walker, Philip Purdy and Angie M. Roseland

✓ Surgical sacrifice of the carotid artery is a frequently anticipated event during the treatment of certain aneurysms and tumors. The ability to predict tolerance to carotid artery occlusion is therefore of benefit when planning procedures in which the carotid artery is at risk. A trial of carotid artery occlusion using an angiographic balloon during concurrent neurological examination or blood flow studies is an accepted method for testing tolerance, but it carries the risks of an angiogram and cannot be performed at the bedside. Transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) is a noninvasive modality that permits measurement of blood velocity in cerebral vessels. The immediate effects of carotid artery occlusion on middle cerebral artery (MCA) perfusion can be obtained by insonating this artery during manual carotid artery compression.

To compare the TCD response to carotid artery compression with the data obtained with more formal testing, the MCA of 22 patients was insonated during manual carotid artery compression and the results compared with the clinical tolerance to balloon occlusion in all patients and to blood flow studied by single photon emission computerized tomography before or during balloon occlusion in 14 of the 22 patients. Surgery was planned to treat giant unruptured aneurysms in 17 cases, intracranial tumors in three, a carotid-cavernous fistula in one, and a carotid artery injury in one. Fifteen patients showed a reduction in TCD flow velocities by no more than 65%; of these, 14 (93%) clinically tolerated the balloon occlusion test. Of the seven patients showing a TCD flow velocity decrease of more than 65%, six (86%) developed a transient focal deficit during the occlusion. It is concluded that the change in MCA velocity measured with TCD studies during manual carotid artery occlusion is a useful predictor of the clinical and blood flow responses to a trial of carotid artery occlusion with an angiographic balloon.