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Erik Friedrich Hauck, Jonathan Ari White and Duke Samson

Object

Because the risks are reduced, larger basilar apex aneurysms are usually treated endovascularly instead of with surgery. However, small basilar apex aneurysms are more common and an unfavorable shape may prevent definitive endovascular treatment. The goal of this study was to reevaluate the outcome of traditional surgery for small unruptured basilar apex aneurysms as an alternative to the currently more accepted endovascular treatment.

Methods

The authors reviewed clinical data obtained in 21 patients who underwent surgery between 2000 and 2007 for unruptured basilar apex aneurysms < 7 mm.

Results

The median age of the 21 patients was 52 years (range 29–74 years). All patients experienced a good outcome. Two patients harbored a small residual aneurysm (> 95% occlusion). Eight patients (38%) suffered a temporary third nerve paresis, which resolved in all cases.

Conclusions

Surgical clip ligation remains an excellent treatment for small basilar apex aneurysms. The treatment is definitive and in experienced hands is associated with a low risk.

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Bruno C. Flores, Jonathan A. White, H. Hunt Batjer and Duke S. Samson

OBJECTIVE

Paraclinoid internal carotid artery (ICA) aneurysms frequently require temporary occlusion to facilitate safe clipping. Brisk retrograde flow through the ophthalmic artery and cavernous ICA branches make simple trapping inadequate to soften the aneurysm. The retrograde suction decompression (RSD), or Dallas RSD, technique was described in 1990 in an attempt to overcome some of those treatment limitations. A frequent criticism of the RSD technique is an allegedly high risk of cervical ICA dissection. An endovascular modification was introduced in 1991 (endovascular RSD) but no studies have compared the 2 RSD variations.

METHODS

The authors performed a systematic review of MEDLINE/PubMed and Web of Science and identified all studies from 1990–2016 in which either Dallas RSD or endovascular RSD was used for treatment of paraclinoid aneurysms. A pooled analysis of the data was completed to identify important demographic and treatment-specific variables. The primary outcome measure was defined as successful aneurysm obliteration. Secondary outcome variables were divided into overall and RSD-specific morbidity and mortality rates.

RESULTS

Twenty-six RSD studies met the inclusion criteria (525 patients, 78.9% female). The mean patient age was 53.5 years. Most aneurysms were unruptured (56.6%) and giant (49%). The most common presentations were subarachnoid hemorrhage (43.6%) and vision changes (25.3%). The aneurysm obliteration rate was 95%. The mean temporary occlusion time was 12.7 minutes. Transient or permanent morbidity was seen in 19.9% of the patients. The RSD-specific complication rate was low (1.3%). The overall mortality rate was 4.2%, with 2 deaths (0.4%) attributable to the RSD technique itself. Good or fair outcome were reported in 90.7% of the patients.

Aneurysm obliteration rates were similar in the 2 subgroups (Dallas RSD 94.3%, endovascular RSD 96.3%, p = 0.33). Despite a higher frequency of complex (giant or ruptured) aneurysms, Dallas RSD was associated with lower RSD-related morbidity (0.6% vs 2.9%, p = 0.03), compared with the endovascular RSD subgroup. There was a trend toward higher mortality in the endovascular RSD subgroup (6.4% vs 3.1%, p = 0.08). The proportion of patients with poor neurological outcome at last follow-up was significantly higher in the endovascular RSD group (15.4% vs 7.2%, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

The treatment of paraclinoid ICA aneurysms using the RSD technique is associated with high aneurysm obliteration rates, good long-term neurological outcome, and low RSD-related morbidity and mortality. Review of the RSD literature showed no evidence of a higher complication rate associated with the Dallas technique compared with similar endovascular methods. On a subgroup analysis of Dallas RSD and endovascular RSD, both groups achieved similar obliteration rates, but a lower RSD-related morbidity was seen in the Dallas technique subgroup. Twenty-five years after its initial publication, RSD remains a useful neurosurgical technique for the management of large and giant paraclinoid aneurysms.

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Jing Guo, Jonathan A. White and H. Hunt Batjer

✓ To evaluate etomidate as a neuroprotective agent in the brain stem, 33 dogs were divided into seven groups and were exposed to isolated, reversible brainstem ischemia in the presence or absence of etomidate using a newly developed canine model of brainstem ischemia. Brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP) and regional cerebral blood flow were measured during ischemia and for 5 hours after reperfusion. This model provides a potential physiological environment in which to test the efficacy of putative brainstem ischemic protective strategies.

During ischemia, BAEP were abolished in all animals. Without etomidate 10 minutes of ischemia was of short enough duration to allow complete recovery of BAEP. Ischemia of 20 or 30 minutes' duration resulted in minimal recovery. The dose of etomidate administered did not suppress BAEP or brainstem cardiovascular response to ischemia. In animals receiving etomidate and rendered ischemic for 20 minutes, a significant but only temporary recovery in BAEP was seen. Etomidate failed to have a significant effect in animals rendered ischemic for 30 minutes.

The minimal effect of etomidate on the current measures of brainstem function is in contrast to etomidate's known suppressive effect on cortical electroencephalogram and predicts that etomidate does little to alter brainstem metabolism. Etomidate's failure to provide for permanent recovery of BAEP suggests that the drug does not give sufficient protection from ischemia to the brainstem neurons in the auditory pathway. If these auditory neurons reflect brainstem function as a whole, etomidate may not be the protective agent of choice during temporary arterial occlusion of posterior circulation.

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Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Jonathan Cohen, L. Dade Lunsford and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to analyze national trends in adult cranial cases performed by neurological surgery residents as logged into the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) system.

METHODS

The ACGME resident case logs were retrospectively reviewed for the years 2009–2017. In these reports, the national average of cases performed by graduating residents is organized by year, type of procedure, and level of resident. These logs were analyzed in order to evaluate trends in residency experience with adult cranial procedures. The reported number of cranial procedures was compared to the ACGME neurosurgical minimum requirements for each surgical category. A linear regression analysis was conducted in order to identify changes in the average number of procedures performed by residents graduating during the study period. Additionally, a 1-sample t-test was performed to compare reported case volumes to the ACGME required minimums.

RESULTS

An average of 577 total cranial procedures were performed throughout residency training for each of the 1631 residents graduating between 2009 and 2017. The total caseload for graduating residents upon completion of training increased by an average of 26.59 cases each year (r2 = 0.99). Additionally, caseloads in most major procedural subspecialty categories increased; this excludes open vascular and extracranial vascular categories, which showed, respectively, a decrease and no change. The majority of cranial procedures performed throughout residency pertained to tumor (mean 158.38 operations), trauma (mean 102.17 operations), and CSF diversion (mean 76.12 operations). Cranial procedures pertaining to the subspecialties of trauma and functional neurosurgery showed the greatest rise in total procedures, increasing at 8.23 (r2 = 0.91) and 6.44 (r2 = 0.95) procedures per graduating year, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgical residents reported increasing case volumes for most cranial procedures between 2009 and 2017. This increase was observed despite work hour limitations set forth in 2003 and 2011. Of note, an inverse relationship between open vascular and endovascular procedures was observed, with a decrease in open vascular procedures and an increase in endovascular procedures performed during the study period. When compared to the ACGME required minimums, neurosurgery residents gained much more exposure to cranial procedures than was expected. Additionally, a larger caseload throughout training suggests that residents are graduating with greater competency and experience in cranial neurosurgery.

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Erik F. Hauck, Bryan Wohlfeld, Babu Guai Welch, Jonathan A. White and Duke Samson

Object

Patients with very large or giant unruptured intracranial aneurysms present with ischemic stroke and progressive disability. The aneurysm rupture risk in these patients is extreme—up to 50% in 5 years. In this study the authors investigated the outcome of surgical treatment for these very large aneurysms in the anterior circulation.

Methods

Clinical data on 62 patients who underwent surgery for unruptured aneurysms (20–60 mm) between 1998 and 2006 were reviewed.

Results

Complete aneurysm occlusion (100%) was achieved in 90% of cases, near complete occlusion (90–99%) in 5%. The surgical risk in patients younger than 50 years of age was 8% (Glasgow Outcome Scale score of 1 or 3 within 1 year after surgery). In older patients, the risk increased with advancing age.

Conclusions

The treatment of very large or giant unruptured intracranial aneurysms is hazardous and complex and thus best performed only at major cerebrovascular centers with an experienced team of neurosurgeons, interventional neuroradiologists, neurologists, and neuroanesthesiologists. Surgery, with acceptable risks and excellent occlusion rates, is typically the treatment of choice in patients younger than 50 years of age. In older patients, the benefits of endovascular treatment versus surgery versus no treatment must be carefully weighed individually. Minimizing temporary occlusion and the consequent use of intraoperative angiography may help reduce surgical complications.

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Hisham Al-Khayat, Haitham Al-Khayat, Jonathan White, David Manner and Duke Samson

Object. The purpose of this study was to identify factors predictive of postoperative oculomotor nerve palsy among patients who undergo surgery for distal basilar artery (BA) aneurysms. The data can be used to estimate preoperative risk in this population. The natural history of oculomotor nerve palsy in patients with good outcomes is also defined.

Methods. The cases of 163 patients with distal BA aneurysms, who were treated surgically between 1996 and 2002, were retrospectively studied to identify factors contributing to oculomotor nerve palsy. After the data had been collected, stepwise logistic regression procedures were used to determine the predictive effects of each variable on the development of oculomotor nerve palsy and to create a scoring system. Factors that interfered with resolution of oculomotor dysfunction in patients with good outcomes were also studied.

Postoperative oculomotor nerve palsy occurred in 86 patients (52.8%) with distal BA aneurysms. The following factors were associated with postoperative oculomotor dysfunction, as determined by a categorical data analysis: 1) younger patient age (p < 0.001); 2) poor admission Hunt and Hess grade (p < 0.001); 3) use of temporary arterial occlusion (p < 0.001); 4) poor Glasgow Outcome Scale score (p < 0.001); and 5) the presence of a BA apex aneurysm that projected posteriorly (p < 0.001). For patients with good outcomes, postoperative oculomotor nerve palsy resolved completely within 3 months in 31 patients (52%) and within 6 months in 47 patients (80%). The projection of the BA aneurysm was associated with incomplete oculomotor recovery at 6 months postoperatively (p = 0.019).

Conclusions. The results of this study can help identify patients with a high risk for the development of oculomotor nerve palsy. This may help neurosurgeons in preoperative planning and discussions.

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Erik Friedrich Hauck, Samuel L. Barnett, Jonathan Ari White and Duke Samson

Object

Anterolateral cavernomas of the pons have been surgically removed via a variety of approaches, commonly retrosigmoid or transventricular. The goal in this study was to evaluate the presigmoid approach as an alternative.

Methods

Clinical data were reviewed in 9 patients presenting with anterolateral pontine cavernomas between 1999 and 2007.

Results

All patients were treated via a presigmoid approach, which provided a nearly perpendicular trajectory to the anterolateral pons. The brainstem was entered through a “safe zone” between the trigeminal nerve and the facial/vestibulocochlear nerve complex. Complete resection was achieved in all cases. No patient experienced recurrent events during follow-up (1–24 months). The patients' modified Rankin Scale score improved within 1 year of surgery (1.7 ± 0.4) compared with baseline (2.6 ± 0.2; p < 0.05). Only one patient experienced a new deficit (decreased hearing), which was corrected with a hearing aid.

Conclusions

The presigmoid approach is recommended for the resection of anterolateral pontine cavernomas. With this approach, the need for cerebellar retraction is nearly eliminated. The lateral “presigmoid” entry point creates a trajectory that allows complete resection of even deep lesions at this level, or anterior to the internal acoustic meatus.

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Jeffrey S. Beecher, Kristopher Lyon, Vin Shen Ban, Awais Vance, Cameron M. McDougall, Louis A. Whitworth, Jonathan A. White, Duke Samson, H. Hunt Batjer and Babu G. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Despite a hemorrhagic presentation, many patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) do not require emergency resection. The timing of definitive management is not standardized in the cerebrovascular community. This study was designed to evaluate the safety of delaying AVM treatment in clinically stable patients with a new hemorrhagic presentation. The authors examined the rate of rehemorrhage or neurological decline in a cohort of patients with ruptured brain AVMs during a period of time posthemorrhage.

METHODS

Patients presenting to the authors’ institution from January 2000 to December 2015 with ruptured brain AVMs treated at least 4 weeks posthemorrhage were included in this analysis. Exclusion criteria were ruptured AVMs that required emergency surgery involving resection of the AVM, prior treatment of AVM at another institution, or treatment of lesions within 4 weeks for other reasons (subacute surgery). The primary outcome measure was time from initial hemorrhage to treatment failure (defined as rehemorrhage or neurological decline as a direct result of the AVM). Patient-days were calculated from the day of initial rupture until the day AVM treatment was initiated or treatment failed.

RESULTS

Of 102 ruptured AVMs in 102 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 7 (6.9%) failed the treatment paradigm. Six patients (5.8%) had a new hemorrhage within a median of 248 days (interquartile range 33–1364 days). The total “at risk” period was 18,740 patient-days, yielding a rehemorrhage rate of 11.5% per patient-year, or 0.96% per patient-month. Twelve (11.8%) of 102 patients were found to have an associated aneurysm. In this group there was a single (8.3%) new hemorrhage during a total at-risk period of 263 patient-days until the aneurysm was secured, yielding a rehemorrhage risk of 11.4% per patient-month.

CONCLUSIONS

It is the authors’ practice to rehabilitate patients after brain AVM rupture with a plan for elective treatment of the AVM. The present data are useful in that the findings quantify the risk of the authors’ treatment strategy. These findings indicate that delaying intervention for at least 4 weeks after the initial hemorrhage subjects the patient to a low (< 1%) risk of rehemorrhage. The authors modified the treatment paradigm when a high-risk feature, such as an associated intracranial aneurysm, was identified.

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Editorial

Brainstem cavernomas

Albino Bricolo

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Bruno C. Flores, Daniel R. Klinger, Kim l. Rickert, Samuel l. Barnett, Babu G. Welch, Jonathan A. White, H. Hunt Batjer and Duke S. Samson

Intracranial or brain arteriovenous malformations (BAVMs) are some of the most interesting and challenging lesions treated by the cerebrovascular neurosurgeon. It is generally believed that the combination of BAVMs and intracranial aneurysms (IAs) is associated with higher hemorrhage rates at presentation and higher rehemorrhage rates and thus with a more aggressive course and natural history. There is wide variation in the literature on the prevalence of BAVM-associated aneurysms (range 2.7%–58%), with 10%–20% being most often cited in the largest case series. The risk of intracranial hemorrhage in patients with unruptured BAVMs and coexisting IAs has been reported to be 7% annually, compared with 2%–4% annually for those with BAVM alone. Several different classification systems have been applied in an attempt to better understand the natural history of this combination of lesions and implications for treatment. Independent of the classification used, it is clear that a few subtypes of aneurysms have a direct hemodynamic correlation with the BAVM itself. This is exemplified by the fact that the presence of a distal flow-related or an intranidal aneurysm appears to be associated with an increased hemorrhage risk, when compared with an aneurysm located on a vessel with no direct supply to the BAVM nidus. Debate still exists regarding the etiology of the association between those two vascular lesions, the subsequent implications for patients’ risk of hemorrhagic stroke, and finally the determination of which patients warrant treatment and when. The ultimate goals of the treatment of a BAVM associated with an IA are to prevent hemorrhage, avoid stepwise neurological deterioration, and eliminate the mortality risk associated with recurrent hemorrhagic events. The treatment is only justifiable if the risks associated with an intervention are lower than or equivalent to the long-term risks of disability or mortality caused by the lesion itself. When faced with this difficult decision, a few questions need to be answered by the treating neu-rosurgeon: What is the mode of presentation? What is the symptomatic lesion? Which one of the lesions bled? What is the relationship between the BAVM and IA? Is it possible to safely treat both BAVM and IA? The objective of this review is to discuss the demographics, natural history, classification, and strategies for management of BAVMs associated with IAs.