To establish a new method for the diagnosis of central nervous system diseases, the authors visualized the cerebral cisterns and ventricles via a percutaneous lumbosacral route by using newly developed fine, flexible fiberscopes.
Fine, flexible fiberscopes, 0.9 and 1.4 mm in diameter, were introduced up to the cerebral cisterns and ventricles through a percutaneous lumbosacral route in awake patients with chronic headache and/or neck pain or those undergoing spinal surgery and in whom MR imaging did not disclose any particular abnormalities in the brain. A lumbosacral subarachnoid puncture was made with a modified method of a continuous epidural block.
In 25 of 31 patients tested, the cerebellomedullary and/or pontine/interpeduncular cisterns were easily and safely reached, and the brainstem structures were visualized. Advancement of the fiberscope beyond the spinal level was abandoned in 6 patients with adhesive spinal arachnoiditis, because the fiberscopes encountered resistance seemingly caused by arachnoid adhesions. Further advancement of the fiberscopes up to the fourth and third ventricles was successfully achieved in 2 patients. A number of arachnoid filaments were found in the cerebellomedullary cistern in 4 patients: 2 with chronic spinal arachnoiditis, 1 with a spinal arachnoid cyst, and 1 with posttraumatic pain syndrome. None of the patients reported pain or any major complication except a postspinal headache and light fever, which were encountered in 4 and 1 patient, respectively.
The approach to the supraspinal structures via the lumbosacral route by using a fine, flexible fiberscope may provide a new, minimally invasive, and safe way to observe the cerebral cisterns and/or brainstem regions.