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Isaac Josh Abecassis, David S. Xu, H. Hunt Batjer and Bernard R. Bendok

Object

The authors aimed to systematically review the literature to clarify the natural history of brain arteriovenous malformations (BAVMs).

Methods

The authors searched PubMed for one or more of the following terms: natural history, brain arteriovenous malformations, cerebral arteriovenous malformations, and risk of rupture. They included studies that reported annual rates of hemorrhage and that included either 100 patients or 5 years of treatment-free follow-up.

Results

The incidence of BAVMs is 1.12–1.42 cases per 100,000 person-years; 38%–68% of new cases are first-ever hemorrhage. The overall annual rates of hemorrhage for patients with untreated BAVMs range from 2.10% to 4.12%. Consistently implicated in subsequent hemorrhage are initial hemorrhagic presentation, exclusively deep venous drainage, and deep and infrantentorial brain location. The risk for rupture seems to be increased by large nidus size and concurrent arterial aneurysms, although these factors have not been studied as thoroughly. Venous stenosis has not been implicated in increased risk for rupture.

Conclusions

For patients with BAVMs, although the overall risk for hemorrhage seems to be 2.10%–4.12% per year, calculating an accurate risk profile for decision making involves clinical attention and accounting for specific features of the malformation.

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Ryan P. Morton, I. Josh Abecassis, Josiah F. Hanson, Jason Barber, John D. Nerva, Samuel N. Emerson, Chibawanye I. Ene, Michelle M. Chowdhary, Michael R. Levitt, Andrew L. Ko, Timothy H. Dellit and Randall M. Chesnut

OBJECTIVE

The authors' aim was to report the largest study on predictors of infection after cranioplasty and to assess the predictive value of intraoperative bone flap cultures before cryopreservation.

METHODS

They retrospectively examined all cranioplasties performed between March 2004 and November 2014. Throughout this study period, the standard protocol during initial craniectomy was to obtain a culture swab of the extracted autologous bone flap (ABF)—prior to its placement in cytostorage—to screen for microbial contamination. Two consecutive protocols were employed for the use and interpretation of the intraoperative swab culture results: A) From March 2004 through June 2013, any culture-positive ABF (+ABF) was discarded and a custom synthetic prosthesis was implanted at the time of cranioplasty. B) From July 2013 through November 2014, any ABF with a skin flora organism was not discarded. Instead, cryopreservation was maintained and the +ABF was reimplanted after a 10-minute soak in bacitracin irrigation as well as a 3-minute soak in betadine.

RESULTS

Over the 10.75-year period, 754 cranioplasty procedures were performed. The median time from craniectomy to cranioplasty was 123 days. Median follow-up after cranioplasty was 237 days for protocol A and 225 days for protocol B. The overall infection rate after cranioplasty was 6.6% (50 cases) occurring at a median postoperative Day 31. Staphylococcus spp. were involved as the causative organisms in 60% of cases.

Culture swabs taken at the time of initial craniectomy were available for 640 ABFs as 114 ABFs were not salvageable. One hundred twenty-six (20%) were culture positive. Eighty-nine +ABFs occurred during protocol A and were discarded in favor of a synthetic prosthesis at the time of cranioplasty, whereas 37 +ABFs occurred under protocol B and were reimplanted at the time of cranioplasty.

Cranioplasty material did not affect the postcranioplasty infection rate. There was no significant difference in the infection rate among sterile ABFs (7%), +ABFs (8%), and synthetic prostheses (5.5%; p = 0.425). All 3 +ABF infections under protocol B were caused by organisms that differed from those in the original intraoperative bone culture from the initial craniectomy. A cranioplasty procedure ≤ 14 days after initial craniectomy was the only significant predictor of postcranioplasty infection (p = 0.007, HR 3.62).

CONCLUSIONS

Cranioplasty procedures should be performed at least 14 days after initial craniectomy to minimize infection risk. Obtaining intraoperative bone cultures at the time of craniectomy in the absence of clinical infection should be discontinued as the culture results were not a useful predictor of postcranioplasty infection and led to the unnecessary use of synthetic prostheses and increased health care costs.

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David S. Xu, Michael R. Levitt, M. Yashar S. Kalani, Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, Celene B. Mulholland, Isaac J. Abecassis, Ryan P. Morton, John D. Nerva, Adnan H. Siddiqui, Elad I. Levy, Robert F. Spetzler, Felipe C. Albuquerque and Cameron G. McDougall

OBJECTIVE

Fusiform dolichoectatic vertebrobasilar aneurysms are rare, challenging lesions. The natural history of these lesions and medium- and long-term patient outcomes are poorly understood. The authors sought to evaluate patient prognosis after diagnosis of fusiform dolichoectatic vertebrobasilar aneurysms and to identify clinical and radiographic predictors of neurological deterioration.

METHODS

The authors reviewed multiple, prospectively maintained, single-provider databases at 3 large-volume cerebrovascular centers to obtain data on patients with unruptured, fusiform, basilar artery dolichoectatic aneurysms diagnosed between January 1, 2000, and January 1, 2015.

RESULTS

A total of 50 patients (33 men, 17 women) were identified; mean clinical follow-up was 50.1 months and mean radiographic follow-up was 32.4 months. At last follow-up, 42% (n = 21) of aneurysms had progressed and 44% (n = 22) of patients had deterioration of their modified Rankin Scale scores. When patients were dichotomized into 2 groups— those who worsened and those who did not—univariate analysis showed 5 variables to be statistically significantly different: sex (p = 0.007), radiographic brainstem compression (p = 0.03), clinical posterior fossa compression (p < 0.001), aneurysmal growth on subsequent imaging (p = 0.001), and surgical therapy (p = 0.006). A binary logistic regression was then created to evaluate these variables. The only variable found to be a statistically significant predictor of clinical worsening was clinical symptoms of posterior fossa compression at presentation (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Fusiform dolichoectatic vertebrobasilar aneurysms carry a poor prognosis, with approximately one-half of the patients deteriorating or experiencing progression of their aneurysm within 5 years. Despite being high risk, intervention—when carefully timed (before neurological decline)—may be beneficial in select patients.

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Ryan P. Morton, Isaac Josh Abecassis, Josiah F. Hanson, Jason K. Barber, Mimi Chen, Cory M. Kelly, John D. Nerva, Samuel N. Emerson, Chibawanye I. Ene, Michael R. Levitt, Michelle M. Chowdhary, Andrew L. Ko and Randall M. Chesnut

OBJECTIVE

Despite their technical simplicity, cranioplasty procedures carry high reported morbidity rates. The authors here present the largest study to date on complications after cranioplasty, focusing specifically on the relationship between complications and timing of the operation.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all cranioplasty cases performed at Harborview Medical Center over the past 10.75 years. In addition to relevant clinical and demographic characteristics, patient morbidity and mortality data were abstracted from the electronic medical record. Cox proportional-hazards models were used to analyze variables potentially associated with the risk of infection, hydrocephalus, seizure, hematoma, and bone flap resorption.

RESULTS

Over the course of 10.75 years, 754 cranioplasties were performed at a single institution. Sixty percent of the patients who underwent these cranioplasties were male, and the median follow-up overall was 233 days. The 30-day mortality rate was 0.26% (2 cases, both due to postoperative epidural hematoma). Overall, 24.6% percent of the patients experienced at least 1 complication including infection necessitating explantation of the flap (6.6%), postoperative hydrocephalus requiring a shunt (9.0%), resorption of the flap requiring synthetic cranioplasty (6.3%), seizure (4.1%), postoperative hematoma requiring evacuation (2.3%), and other (1.6%).

The rate of infection was significantly higher if the cranioplasty had been performed < 14 days after the initial craniectomy (p = 0.007, Holm-Bonferroni–adjusted p = 0.028). Hydrocephalus was significantly correlated with time to cranioplasty (OR 0.92 per 10-day increase, p < 0.001) and was most common in patients whose cranioplasty had been performed < 90 days after initial craniectomy. New-onset seizure, however, only occurred in patients who had undergone their cranioplasty > 90 days after initial craniectomy. Bone flap resorption was the least likely complication for patients whose cranioplasty had been performed between 15 and 30 days after initial craniectomy. Resorption was also correlated with patient age, with a hazard ratio of 0.67 per increase of 10 years of age (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Cranioplasty performed between 15 and 30 days after initial craniectomy may minimize infection, seizure, and bone flap resorption, whereas waiting > 90 days may minimize hydrocephalus but may increase the risk of seizure.