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Julian E. Bailes, Robert F. Spetzler, Mark N. Hadley and Hillel Z. Baldwin

✓ Preliminary experience with the occasional good survival of patients in Hunt and Hess Grade IV or V with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) led to a prospective management protocol employed during a 2½-year period. The protocol utilized computerized tomography (CT) scanning to diagnose SAH and to obtain evidence for irreversible brain destruction, consisting of massive cerebral infarction with midline shift or dominant basal ganglia or brain-stem hematoma. These patients, along with those who exhibited poor or absent intracranial filling on CT or angiography, were excluded from active treatment and given supportive care only. All other patients had immediate ventriculostomy placement and, if intracranial pressure (ICP) was controllable (≤ 30 cm H2O without an intracranial clot or ≤ 50 cm H2O in the presence of a clot), went on to have craniotomy for aneurysm clipping. Aggressive postoperative hypertensive, hypervolemic, hemodilutional therapy was subsequently employed. Of 54 patients with poor-grade aneurysms, ventriculostomy was placed in 47 (87.0%) and yielded high ICP's in the overwhelming majority, with the mean ICP being 40.2 cm H2O. Nineteen poor-grade aneurysm patients received no surgical treatment and survived a mean of 31.8 hours with 100% mortality. Thirty-five patients underwent placement of a ventriculostomy, craniotomy for aneurysm clipping and intracranial clot evacuation, and postoperative hypertensive, hypervolemic, hemodilutional therapy. The outcome at 3 months of the 35 patients who were selected for active treatment was good in 19 (54.3%), fair in four (11.4%), poor in four (11.4%), and death in eight (22.9%).

It is concluded that poor-grade aneurysm patients usually present with intracranial hypertension, even those without an intracranial clot. Based on radiographic rather than neurological criteria, a portion of these patients can be selected for active and successful treatment. Increased ICP can be present without ventriculomegaly, and immediate ventriculostomy should be performed. As long as ICP is controllable, craniotomy and postoperative intensive care can effect a favorable outcome in a significant percentage of these patients.

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The far lateral/combined supra- and infratentorial approach

A human cadaveric prosection model for routes of access to the petroclival region and ventral brain stem

Hillel Z. Baldwin, Christopher G. Miller, Harry R. van Loveren, Jeffrey T. Keller, C. Phillip Daspit and Robert F. Spetzler

✓ A far lateral approach to the ventral brain stem, lower clivus, and anterior foramen magnum is described. Methods for further exposure of the superior petroclival region by incorporating a subtemporal craniotomy and posterior petrosectomy are also demonstrated. Eight sequentially illustrated steps depict this technique. The far lateral/combined supra- and infratentorial exposure is a comprehensive surgical approach that provides direct access to the entire anterior and lateral brain stem and craniovertebral junction. It minimizes brain-stem retraction and maximizes visualization of the neurovascular structures.

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David I. Levy, Harold L. Rekate, W. Bruce Cherny, Kim Manwaring, S. David Moss and Hillel Z. Baldwin

✓ A retrospective study of external lumbar subarachnoid drainage in 16 pediatric patients with severe head injuries is presented. All patients had Glasgow Coma Scale scores of 8 or lower at 6 hours postinjury and were initially treated with ventriculostomy. Five patients required surgical evacuation of focal mass lesions. All patients manifested high intracranial pressures (ICPs) refractory to aggressive therapy, including hyperventilation, furosemide, mannitol, and in some cases, artificially induced barbiturate coma. After lumbar drainage was instituted, 14 patients had an abrupt and lasting decrease in ICP, obviating the need for continued medical management of ICP. In no patient did transtentorial or cerebellar herniation occur as a result of lumbar drainage. It was also noted retrospectively that the patients in this study had discernible basilar cisterns on computerized tomography scans. Fourteen patients survived; eight made good recoveries, three are functional with disability, and three have severe disabilities. Two patients died, most likely from uncontrolled ICP before the lumbar drain was placed. It is concluded that controlled external lumbar subarachnoid drainage is a useful treatment for pediatric patients with severe head injury when aggressive medical therapy and ventricular cerebrospinal fluid evacuation have failed to control high ICP. Selected patients with elevated ICP, which may be a function of posttraumatic cerebrospinal fluid circulation disruption and/or white matter cerebral edema, can be treated with this modality, which accesses the cisternal spaces untapped by ventriculostomy.