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Neuroendovascular surgery

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Howard A. Riina

Neuroendovascular surgery and interventional neuroradiology both describe the catheter-based (most often) endovascular diagnosis and treatment of vascular lesions affecting the brain and spinal cord. This article traces the evolution of these techniques and their current role as the dominant and frequently standard approach for many of these conditions. The article also discusses the important changes that have been brought to bear on open cerebrovascular neurosurgery by neuroendovascular surgery and their effects on resident and fellow training and describes new concepts for clinical care.

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Unruptured aneurysms

Howard A. Riina and Robert F. Spetzler

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Howard A. Riina and Y. Pierre Gobin

The treatment of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) has evolved over the last 40 years. These complex vascular lesions remain among the most difficult lesions to treat. Successful treatment of AVMs of the brain includes extensive preoperative planning, multimodality treatment options, and modern postoperative surgical care. The advent of new technologies, including interventional neuroradiology and radiosurgery, has expanded the range of malformations that can be treated effectively and has had a significant impact on those individuals who manifest this disease process. The purpose of this paper is to describe the current grading technique used by the authors and to explore the preoperative treatment and planning that leads to successful surgical obliteration of these lesions. Some description of preoperative interventions, including radiosurgery and interventional procedures will be mentioned; however, only in the context of how they impact on the surgical treatment of these lesions. In other articles in this edition of Neurosurgical Focus interventional procedures and radiosurgery as treatment adjuncts and as primary therapies will be discussed in greater detail.

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Eric K. Oermann and Howard A. Riina

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Rajeev D. Sen, Carolina Gesteira Benjamin, Howard A. Riina, and Donato Pacione

The authors report on an 81-year-old woman with a pathologic hangman's fracture secondary to a complex arteriovenous fistula (AVF). The patient presented with severe, unremitting neck pain and was found to have fractures bilaterally through the pars interarticularis of C-2 with significant anterior subluxation of C-2 over C-3 along with widening of the left transverse foramen. Due to an abnormally appearing left vertebral artery (VA) on CT angiography, the patient underwent conventional angiography, which revealed a complex AVF stemming from the left VA at the level of C-2 with dilated posterior cervical veins and a large venous varix. Given the radiographic evidence of bone remodeling and the chronicity of the AVF, it is believed that the C-2 vertebra was weakened over time by the pulsatile and compressive force of the vascular malformation eventually leading to fracture with minimal stress. Coil embolization of the AVF was performed followed by surgical fixation of C-1 to C-4. This case highlights the importance of investigating an underlying disease process in patients who present with significant spinal fractures in the absence of trauma.

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Marc L. Otten, Howard A. Riina, Y. Pierre Gobin, and Mark M. Souweidane

✓ The authors report a case of preoperative embolization and resection of a choroid plexus papilloma of the lateral ventricle in a 4-month-old boy. These vascular tumors of the central nervous system present a significant intraoperative bleeding risk. Attempts at preoperative embolization to reduce the bleeding risk have rarely succeeded because of the small and tortuous vessels feeding these tumors in infants. The case presented here supports the feasibility of preoperative embolization as a therapeutic adjunct in infants.

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Robert F. Spetzler, Paul W. Detwiler, Howard A. Riina, and Randall W. Porter

The literature on spinal vascular malformations contains a great deal of confusing terminology. Some of the nomenclature is inconsistent with the lesions described. Based on the experience of the senior author (R.F.S.) in the treatment of more than 130 spinal cord vascular lesions and based on a thorough review of the relevant literature, the authors propose a modified classification system for spinal cord vascular lesions.

Lesions are divided into three primary or broad categories: neoplasms, aneurysms, and arteriovenous lesions. Neoplastic vascular lesions include hemangioblastomas and cavernous malformations, both of which occur sporadically and familially. The second category consists of spinal aneurysms, which are rare. The third category, spinal cord arteriovenous lesions, is divided into arteriovenous fistulas and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Arteriovenous fistulas are subdivided into those that are extradural and those that are intradural, with intradural lesions categorized as either dorsal or ventral. Arteriovenous malformations are subdivided into extradural-intradural and intradural malformations. Intradural lesions are further divided into intramedullary, intramedullary-extramedullary, and conus medullaris, a new category of AVM.

This modified classification system for vascular lesions of the spinal cord, based on pathophysiology, neuroimaging features, intraoperative observations, and neuroanatomy, offers several advantages. First, it includes all surgical vascular lesions that affect the spinal cord. Second, it guides treatment by classifying lesions based on location and pathophysiology. Finally, it eliminates the confusion produced by the multitude of unrelated nomenclatural terms found in the literature.

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Thomas R. Marotta, Howard A. Riina, Ian McDougall, Donald R. Ricci, and Monika Killer-Oberpfalzer


Intracranial bifurcation aneurysms are complex lesions for which current therapy, including simple coiling, balloon- or stent-assisted coiling, coil retention, or intrasaccular devices, is inadequate. Thromboembolic complications due to a large burden of intraluminal metal, impedance of access to side branches, and a high recurrence rate, due largely to the unmitigated high-pressure flow into the aneurysm (water hammer effect), are among the limitations imposed by current therapy. The authors describe herein a novel device, eCLIPs, and its use in a preclinical laboratory study that suggests the device's design and functional features may overcome many of these limitations.


A preclinical model of wide-necked bifurcation aneurysms in rabbits was used to assess functional features and efficacy of aneurysm occlusion by the eCLIPs device.


The eCLIPs device, in bridging the aneurysm neck, allows coil retention, disrupts flow away from the aneurysm, leaves the main vessel and side branches unencumbered by intraluminal metal, and serves as a platform for endothelial growth across the neck, excluding the aneurysm from the circulation.


The eCLIPs device permits physiological remodeling of the bifurcation.

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Daniel L. Barrow