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Time course of blood velocity changes related to vasospasm in the circle of Willis measured by transcranial Doppler ultrasound

Albrecht G. Harders and Joachim M. Gilsbach

✓ Fifty patients with ruptured aneurysms were operated on within 72 hours after the first subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). To prevent symptomatic vasospasm, the patients were given the calcium channel blocker, nimodipine, intravenously (2 mg/hr) for 14 days and orally (60 mg four times daily) for another 7 days. At short intervals (at least every 3rd day) the blood flow velocity in the different segments of the circle of Willis was measured with a noninvasive transcranial Doppler ultrasonography method. Within the first 72 hours after SAH, the velocity was normal in the large branches of the circle of Willis and angiography revealed no signs of vasospasm. The Doppler frequency changes that relate to blood flow accelerated between Days 3 and 10, and maximum blood flow velocities were recorded between Days 11 and 20, with normalization occurring within the following 4 weeks. The changes showed a significant relationship to the source of SAH, the side of the operative approach, and the method of nimodipine administration. A comparison between the angiographically proven diameter of spastic arteries and the Doppler-measured blood flow velocity showed an inverse relationship in flow of the middle cerebral artery and the internal carotid artery that was statistically highly significant (p < 0.001) while this correlation was only slightly significant in the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery (p = 0.054). Seven patients (14%) developed delayed ischemic deficits (DID's), which were all functionally reversible. One patient (2%) died as a result of decompensated vasospasm. Based on the information provided by Doppler measurement of the individual blood flow velocity changes due to vasospasm, preventive hypertensive treatment was introduced to improve the perfusion pressure while patients were still in an asymptomatic stage. Among the last 40 patients who were treated according to this regimen, reversible DID's were observed in only three patients (7.5%) and postoperative angiography to detect vasospasm was not necessary.

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Doppler and Endoscopic Stereotactic Biopsy

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Inadvertent intrathecal vincristine administration: a neurosurgical emergency

Case report

Maher Qweider, Joachim M. Gilsbach, and Veit Rohde

✓ Vincristine has a high neurotoxicity level. If given intrathecally by accident, it can cause ascending radiculomyeloencephalopathy, which is almost always fatal. The authors report a rare case in which vincristine was accidentally injected intrathecally into a 32-year-old man. The patient, who had Burkitt lymphoma, was neurologically intact, and it is likely that his survival was made possible due to aggressive neurosurgical therapy. After immediate cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) aspiration, external ventricular and lumbar drains were placed for CSF irrigation, which was continued for 6 days. This CSF irrigation was combined with 1) the intrathecal administration of fresh-frozen plasma to bind the vincristine and 2) an intravenous antineurotoxic therapy involving pyridoxine, folic acid, and glutamic acid. The patient's first sensorimotor deficits occurred after 2 days, led to an incomplete sensorimotor dysfunction below T-9 within the next 17 days, but progressed no further. Supported by the scarce data culled from the reviewed literature, the authors hypothesize that prolonged CSF irrigation combined with antineurotoxic therapy contributed to the patient's satisfactory outcome. In conclusion, accidental intrathecal vincristine injection requires emergency and adequate neurosurgical therapy.

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Indications for and benefits of lumbar facet joint block: analysis of 230 consecutive patients

Alan Bani, Uwe Spetzger, and Joachim M. Gilsbach


The authors evaluated the effectiveness of using a facet joint block with local anesthetic agents and or steroid medication for the treatment of low-back pain in a medium-sized series of patients.


Over a period of 4 years, the authors performed 715 facet joint injections in 230 patients with variable-length histories of low-back pain. The main parameter for the success or failure of this treatment was the relief of the pain. For the first injection—mainly a diagnostic procedure—the authors used a local anesthetic (1 ml bupivacaine 1%). In cases of good response, betamethasone was injected in a second session to achieve a longer-lasting effect.

Long-lasting relief of the low-back pain and/or leg pain was reported by 43 patients (18.7%) during a mean follow-up period of 10 months. Thirty-five patients (15.2%) noticed a general improvement in their pain. Twenty-seven patients (11.7%) reported relief of low-back pain but not leg pain. Nine patients (3.9%) suffered no back pain but still leg pain. One hundred sixteen patients (50.4%), however, experienced no improvement of pain at all. In two cases the procedure had to be interrupted because of severe pain. There were no cases of infection or hematoma.


Lumbar facet joint block is a minimally invasive procedure to differentiate between facet joint pain and other causes of lower-back pain. The procedure seems to be useful for distinguishing between facet joint pain from postoperative pain due to inappropriate neural decompression after lumbar surgery. It can be also recommended as a possible midterm intervention for chronic low-back pain.

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Valve invagination in ventriculoatrial shunting

Werner Hassler, Joachim Gilsbach, Albrecht Harders, and Robert Hemmer

✓ The authors present eight cases of an unusual mechanical complication of ventriculoatrial shunts that has not been reported previously. In these eight patients, the metal parts of the valve slipped into the silicone casing. Although the cause is not completely clear, there are simple ways of preventing this from happening.

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Functional outcome after surgical treatment of spontaneous and nonspontaneous spinal subdural hematomas

Ruth Thiex, Armin Thron, Joachim M. Gilsbach, and Veit Rohde

Object. Because of the rarity of spinal subdural hematomas (SDHs), the literature offers scarce estimates of the outcome and predictive factors in patients suffering from these lesions. In addition, single-institution surgical series are still lacking. Therefore, the authors retrospectively evaluated the early and long-term functional outcomes measured in eight patients with spontaneous and nonspontaneous spinal SDHs in whom the clot had been evacuated.

Methods. The patients' charts were evaluated for origin of the lesion, risk factors, and neurological deficits at symptom onset and at 28 days after extirpation of the spinal SDH. Long-term clinical outcome (Barthel Index [BI]) was evaluated by administering a telephone questionnaire to the patient or a relative.

Only one patient with a spontaneous spinal SDH was identified. Four patients were undergoing anticoagulant therapy, and three patients had undergone a previous anesthetic/diagnostic spinal procedure. Twenty-eight days postoperatively, neurological deficits improved in six of eight patients; however, in two of the six patients, the improvement did not allow the patients to become independent again. In two patients, surgery did not affect the complete sensorimotor deficits. In the long-term survivors (median 45 months) a median BI of 55 was achieved. The latency between symptom onset and surgery did not correlate with functional outcome in this series. The preoperative neurological condition and location of the hematoma correlated positively with early and long-term functional outcome.

Conclusions. To the best of their knowledge, the present study is the largest single-institutional study of patients with surgically treated spinal SDHs. Despite some postoperative improvement of sensorimotor deficits in most patients, the prognosis is poor because 50% of the patients remain dependent. Their outcome was determined by the preoperative sensorimotor function and spinal level of the spinal SDH.

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Neurenteric cyst of the cervical spine with mediastinal extension

Case illustration

Marcus C. Korinth, Harald D. Müller, and Joachim M. Gilsbach

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Placental site trophoblastic tumor metastasizing to the brain

Case illustration

Marcus C. Korinth, Martin R. Weinzierl, and Joachim M. Gilsbach

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Gamma knife surgery for atypical meningiomas

Beate C. Huffmann, Peter C. Reinacher, and Joachim M. Gilsbach

Object. Complete resection is the optimal treatment for atypical meningiomas (AMs) but its feasibility depends on the tumor site. The object of this study was to assess the effect of gamma knife surgery (GKS) on AM.

Methods. In 15 patients 21 AMs were treated by GKS. Four patients had residual lesions and 10 patients had recurrent tumors after one or more microsurgical interventions. Three patients were treated twice with GKS because of tumor tissue outside the treatment volume, either at the margin or at a distant location. The median clinical and neuroimaging follow-up period was 35 months (range 21–67 months).

Ten tumors shrank 6 to 12 months after GKS, 10 remained stable, and one grew. Between 18 and 36 months after GKS, four patients had a distant recurrence, and two had a margin recurrence. In one of these cases, an additional local recurrence was demonstrated 1 year later, and the patient underwent standard radiotherapy. No patient suffered persistent adverse effects after radiosurgery.

Conclusions. After early tumor shrinkage, high recurrence rates were demonstrated both at the treatment margin and at distant locations in cases treated for AM. There was only one recurrence within the GKS radiation field. For small- and medium-sized AMs GKS may be a safe adjunct to other treatment modalities.

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Health-related quality of life after subarachnoid hemorrhage: impacts of bleeding severity, computerized tomography findings, vasospasm, surgery, and neurological grade

Bernd O. Hütter, Ilonka Kreitschmann-Andermahr, and Joachim M. Gilsbach

Object. Based on the results of earlier studies it is agreed that the significance of aneurysm location and surgery for neuropsychological impairments after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is secondary to the effects of the bleeding itself. Therefore, the present study was performed to evaluate whether bleeding, acute clinical course, and surgery have persistent effects on health-related quality of life (QOL) after SAH.

Methods. A series of 116 patients was examined for 4 to 5 years (mean 52.2 months) after aneurysmal SAH by means of a QOL questionnaire. Eighty-six patients (74.1%) had undergone surgery early (≤ 72 hours post-SAH). There were 77 women (66.4%) and 39 men (33.6%) in the study group, and the mean age of the patients was 50.3 ± 13.3 years (range 30–69 years).

Patients who had undergone surgery for a left-sided middle cerebral artery (MCA) aneurysm complained of significantly more impairments in social contact, communication, and cognition than those treated for a right-sided MCA aneurysm. No other effects of aneurysm location (including the anterior communicating artery) emerged. Multiple aneurysms, intraoperative aneurysm rupture, and partial resection of the gyrus rectus had no adverse effects on later daily life. Only temporary clipping was associated with increased complaints in some QOL areas. Disturbances of the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid and the presence of intraventricular hemorrhage led to more impairments in daily life. Specific effects of the anatomical pattern of the bleeding could be identified, but no adverse effects of vasospasm were found. Multivariate analyses revealed, in particular, that patient age and admission neurological status (Hunt and Hess grade) are substantial predictors of the psychosocial sequelae of SAH.

Conclusions. In contrast to the mild effects of aneurysm surgery, patient's age, initial neurological state on admission, and the bleeding pattern substantially influence late QOL after SAH.