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Michael J. Link, Robert J. Coffey, Douglas A. Nichols and Deborah A. Gorman

✓ Over the past 5 years 29 patients with dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) were treated by the authors using the Leksell radiosurgical gamma knife unit. Within 2 days after radiosurgery, 17 patients with AVFs that exhibited retrograde pial or cortical venous drainage (12 patients) and/or produced intractable bruit (eight patients) underwent particulate embolization of external carotid feeding vessels. The rationale for this treatment strategy was that radiosurgery was expected to cause obliteration of most fistulas after 12 to 36 months. In patients with bruit, ocular symptoms, or in those at risk for hemorrhage, treatment with embolization after radiosurgery kept the fistulas angiographically visible for radiosurgical targeting yet offered palliation of symptoms and temporary, partial protection from hemorrhage during the latency period. In 12 patients, preobliteration embolization immediately reduced (10 patients) or eliminated (two patients) retrograde pial venous drainage. To date, no lesion has hemorrhaged after treatment. Angiography 1 to 3 years posttreatment in 18 patients showed total obliteration of 13 fistulas (72%) and partial obliteration of five (28%). Radiosurgery, followed by embolization when retrograde pial venous drainage, intractable bruit, and/or major external carotid artery supply is present, appears to be a promising treatment for selected patients with symptomatic dural AVFs.

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Bruce E. Pollock, Robert L. Foote, Scott L. Stafford, Michael J. Link, Deborah A. Gorman and Paula J. Schomberg

Object. Gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS) is being increasing performed in the management of patients with medically unresponsive trigeminal neuralgia. The authors report the results of repeated GKS in patients with recurrent facial pain after their initial procedure.

Methods. Between April 1997 and December 1999, 100 patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia underwent GKS at the authors' center. To date, 26 patients have required additional surgery because GKS provided no significant pain relief (15 patients) or because they had recurrent facial pain (11 patients). Ten of these patients underwent repeated GKS at a median of 13 months (range 4–27 months). All patients undergoing repeated GKS had a significant reduction in their facial pain after the first procedure (eight were pain free); no patient developed facial numbness or paresthesias. Initially, nine of 10 patients became pain free 1 to 4 weeks following repeated GKS. At a median follow up of 15 months (range 3–32 months), eight patients remained pain free and required no medication. All eight patients with persistent pain relief developed minor neurological dysfunction after repeated GKS (six patients had facial numbness and two had paresthesias).

Conclusions. Repeated GKS can be associated with a high rate of pain relief for patients with trigeminal neuralgia who experienced a significant reduction in their facial pain after the first operation. However, every patient with sustained pain relief after the second operation also developed some degree of trigeminal dysfunction. These findings of improved pain relief for patients who develop facial numbness after GKS for trigeminal neuralgia support the experimental data currently available.

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Jonathan A. Friedman, Bruce E. Pollock, Douglas A. Nichols, Deborah A. Gorman, Robert L. Foote and Scott L. Stafford

Object. Most dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) of the transverse and sigmoid sinuses do not have angiographically demonstrated features associated with intracranial hemorrhage and, therefore, may be treated nonsurgically. The authors report their experience using a staged combination of radiosurgery and transarterial embolization for treating DAVFs involving the transverse and sigmoid sinuses.

Methods. Between 1991 and 1998, 25 patients with DAVFs of the transverse and/or sigmoid sinuses were treated using stereotactic radiosurgery; 22 of these patients also underwent transarterial embolization. Two patients were lost to follow-up review. Clinical data, angiographic findings, and follow-up records for the remaining 23 patients were collected prospectively. The mean duration of clinical follow up after radiosurgery was 50 months (range 20–99 months).

The 18 women and five men included in this series had a mean age of 57 years (range 33–79 years). Twenty-two (96%) of 23 patients presented with pulsatile tinnitus as the primary symptom; two patients had experienced an earlier intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Cognard classifications of the DAVFs included the following: I in 12 patients (52%), IIa in seven patients (30%), and III in four patients (17%). After treatment, symptoms resolved (20 patients) or improved significantly (two patients) in 96% of patients. One patient was clinically unchanged. No patient sustained an ICH or irradiation-related complication during the follow-up period. Seventeen patients underwent follow-up angiographic studies at a mean of 21 months after radiosurgery (range 11–38 months). Total or near-total obliteration (> 90%) was seen in 11 patients (65%), and more than a 50% reduction in six patients (35%). Two patients experienced recurrent tinnitus and underwent repeated radiosurgery and embolization at 21 and 38 months, respectively, after the first procedure.

Conclusions. A staged combination of radiosurgery and transarterial embolization provides excellent symptom relief and a good angiographically verified cure rate for patients harboring low-risk DAVFs of the transverse and sigmoid sinuses. This combined approach is a safe and effective treatment strategy for patients without angiographically determined risk factors for hemorrhage and for elderly patients with significant comorbidities.

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Bruce E. Pollock, Loi K. Phuong, Deborah A. Gorman, Robert L. Foote and Scott L. Stafford

Object. Each year a greater number of patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) undergo radiosurgery, including a large number of patients who are candidates for microvascular decompression (MVD).

Methods. The case characteristics and outcomes of 117 consecutive patients who underwent radiosurgery were retrieved from a prospectively maintained database. The mean patient age was 67.8 years; and the majority (58%) of patients had undergone surgery previously. The dependent variable for all analyses of facial pain was complete pain relief without medication (excellent outcome). Median follow-up duration was 26 months (range 1–48 months). The actuarial rate of achieving and maintaining an excellent outcome was 57% and 55% at 1 and 3 years, respectively, after radiosurgery. A greater percentage of patients who had not previously undergone surgery achieved and maintained excellent outcomes (67% at 1 and 3 years) than that of patients who had undergone prior surgery (51% and 47% at 1 and 3 years, respectively; relative risk [RR] = 1.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–3.13, p = 0.04). New persistent trigeminal dysfunction was noted in 43 patients (37%). Tolerable numbness or paresthesias occurred in 29 patients (25%), whereas bothersome dysesthesias developed in 14 patients (12%). Only a radiation dose of 90 Gy correlated with new trigeminal deficits or dysesthesias (RR = 3.10, 95% CI 1.64–5.81, p < 0.001). Excellent outcomes in patients with new trigeminal dysfunction were achieved and maintained at rates of 76% and 74% at 1 and 3 years, respectively, after radiosurgery, compared with respective rates of 46% and 42% in patients who did not experience postradiosurgery trigeminal dysfunction (RR = 4.53, 95% CI 2.03–9.95, p < 0.01).

Conclusions. Radiosurgical treatment provides complete pain relief for the majority of patients with idiopathic TN. There is a strong correlation between the development of new facial sensory loss and achievement and maintenance of pain relief after this procedure. Because the long-term results of radiosurgery still remain unknown, MVD should continue to be the primary operation for medically fit patients with TN.

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Atom Sarkar, Bruce E. Pollock, Paul D. Brown and Deborah A. Gorman

Object. Radiosurgery is commonly used for the treatment of patients with glioma. The goal of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of radiosurgery in the management of patients with oligodendrogliomas (ODGs) or mixed oligoastrocytomas (OGAs).

Methods. A retrospective chart review of patients treated between May 1990 and January 2000 identified 18 patients (21 tumors) with either an ODG (10) or a mixed OGA (11) who had undergone radiosurgery. The median patient age was 43 years (range 23–67 years). Sixteen patients had undergone one or more tumor resections before radiosurgery; in two patients biopsy sampling alone had been performed. Tumor grades at the most recent operation were Grade 1 (one), Grade 2 (one), Grade 3 (12), and Grade 4 (seven patients). Seventeen patients had undergone prior radiotherapy; 11 were treated with chemotherapy before radiosurgery, and one had undergone a prior linear accelerator—based radiosurgery treatment. The median tumor volume was 8.2 cm3 (range 1.9–47.7 cm3); the median margin dose was 15 Gy (range 12–20 Gy); and the median maximum dose was 32 Gy (range 24–50 Gy).

In this heterogeneous group, 12 patients died whereas six remain alive. Survival after radiosurgery was 78%, 61%, and 44% at 12, 24, and 48 months, respectively. Factors associated with an improved survival rate included younger age and smaller tumors.

Conclusions. For patients with oligoastroglial tumors that have failed to respond to conventional therapies, radiosurgery may provide some survival benefit. Further study is needed to determine which subpopulation of these patients will have the best chances of enhanced survival from this treatment.

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Bruce E. Pollock, Deborah A. Gorman and Paul D. Brown

Object

Although stereotactic radiosurgery is frequently performed for arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in deep locations, outcomes after radiosurgery for these patients have not been well studied. The goal of this paper was to study these outcomes.

Methods

Between 1990 and 2000, 56 patients underwent radiosurgery for AVMs located in the basal ganglia (10 patients), thalamus (30 patients), or brainstem (16 patients). The median age of these patients was 34.2 years. Thirty-five patients (62%) had experienced previous bleeding. The AVMs were classified Grade IIIB in 62% of patients and Grade IV in 38% according to the modified Spetzler—Martin Scale; the median radiosurgery-based AVM score was 1.83. The median volume of the lesion was 3.8 cm3 and the median radiation dose delivered to its margin was 18 Gy. The median duration of follow-up review after radiosurgery was 45 months (range 3–121 months).

In seven patients (12%) hemorrhage occurred at a median of 12 months after radiosurgery; five patients (9%) died and two recovered without any deficit. Permanent radiation-related complications occurred in six (12%) of 51 patients (excluding the five patients who died of hemorrhage) after one procedure and in three (18%) of 17 patients after repeated radiosurgery. Obliteration of the AVM was noted in 24 patients (43%; obliteration was confirmed by angiography in 18 patients and by magnetic resonance [MR] imaging in six patients) after a single procedure and in 32 patients (57%; confirmed by angiography in 25 patients and by MR imaging in seven patients) after one or more procedures. Excellent outcomes (obliteration of the lesion without any new deficit) were obtained in 39% of patients after one radiosurgical procedure and in 48% after one or more procedures. Twelve (67%) of 18 patients with AVM scores lower than 1.5 had excellent outcomes compared with 15 (39%) of 38 patients with AVM scores greater than 1.5 (p = 0.053).

Conclusions

Less than half of the patients with deeply located AVMs were cured of the future risk of hemorrhage without new neurological deficits. This experience emphasizes the difficulty in treating patients with deeply located AVMs; the majority of whom are also poor candidates for resection or embolization.