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Dheerendra Prasad, Melita Steiner, and Ladislau Steiner

Object. The goal of this study was to assess the results of gamma surgery (GS) for vestibular schwannoma (VS) in 200 cases treated over the last 10 years and to review the role of this neurosurgical procedure in the management of VS.

Methods. Follow-up reviews ranging from 1 to 10 years were available in 153 of these patients. Follow-up images in these cases were analyzed using computer software that we developed to obtain volume measurements for the tumors, and the clinical condition of the patients was assessed using questionnaires.

Gamma surgery was the primary treatment modality in 96 cases and followed microsurgery in 57 cases. Tumors ranged in volume from 0.02 to 18.3 cm3. In the group in which GS was the primary treatment, a decrease in volume was observed in 78 cases (81%), no change in 12 (12%), and an increase in volume in six cases (6%). The decrease was more than 75% in seven cases. In the group treated following microsurgery, a decrease in volume was observed in 37 cases (65%), no change in 14 (25%), and an increase in volume in six (11%). The decrease was more than 75% in eight cases. Five patients experienced trigeminal dysfunction; in three cases this was transient and in the other two it was persistent, although there has been improvement. Three patients had facial paresis (in one case this was transient, lasting 6 weeks; in one case there was 80% recovery at 18 months posttreatment; and in one case surgery was performed after the onset of facial paresis for presumed increase in tumor size). Over a 6-year period, hearing deteriorated in 60% of the patients. Three patients showed an improvement in hearing. No hearing deterioration was observed during the first 2 years of follow-up review.

Conclusions. Gamma surgery should be used to treat postoperative residual tumors as well as tumors in patients with medical conditions that preclude surgery. Microsurgery should be performed whenever a surgeon is confident of extirpating the tumor with a risk—benefit ratio superior to that presented in this study.

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Arteriovenous malformations of the brain

A long-term clinical study

David M. C. Forster, Ladislau Steiner, and Sten Håkanson

✓ The quality of survival of 150 patients with arteriovenous malformations of the brain is presented. The mean period of follow-up was over 15 years. The surgically operated and conservatively managed groups are compared, a comparison that in the long run appears to favor the operated cases. The results are discussed and indications for surgery summarized.

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Ladislau Steiner, Christer Lindquist, Wayne Cail, Bengt Karlsson, and Melita Steiner

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Bryan Rankin Payne, Dheerendra Prasad, Melita Steiner, Hernan Bunge, and Ladislau Steiner

Object. The goal of this study was to evaluate the results of gamma surgery in nine patients treated for vein of Galen malformations (VGMs).

Methods. A consecutive series of nine VGMs in eight children aged 4 to 14 years and in one adult were treated with gamma surgery. Six of the patients were male, including the adult, and three were female. Among these patients there were three Yaşargil Type I, one Type II, two Type III, and three Type IV malformations. Previous embolization had failed in four cases. Three VGMs were treated with gamma surgery twice. An additional patient with a Type III VGM underwent stereotactic angiography in preparation for gamma surgery but was judged to be suitable for direct embolization.

Follow-up angiograms were obtained in eight of the VGMs treated. Four no longer filled; one has probably been obliterated, but this cannot be confirmed because the patient refused to undergo final angiography; one patient has residual fistulas not included in the initial treatment field, which were retreated recently; and two other patients have marked reduction of flow through their VGMs.

Conclusions. Gamma surgery is a viable option in the treatment of VGMs in clinically stable patients. Combined endovascular therapy and gamma surgery is of benefit in complex malformations.

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Bryan Rankin Payne, Dheerendra Prasad, György Szeifert, Melita Steiner, and Ladislau Steiner

Object. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and limitations of gamma surgery (GS) in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma that has metastasized to the brain.

Methods. The authors performed a retrospective analysis of a consecutive series of 21 patients with 37 metastatic brain deposits from renal cell carcinoma who were treated with GS at the University of Virginia from 1990 to 1999.

Clinical data were available in all patients. No patient died of progression of intracranial disease or deteriorated neurologically following GS. Eight patients clinically improved. Follow-up imaging studies were available for 23 tumors in 12 patients. Nine patients did not undergo follow-up imaging. One patient lived 17 months and succumbed to systemic disease; no brain imaging was performed in this case. Another patient refused further imaging and lived 7 months. Seven patients lived up to 4 months after the procedure; however, their physicians did not require these patients to undergo follow-up imaging examinations because of their general conditions—all had systemic progression of disease. Of the 23 tumors that were observed posttreatment, one remained unchanged in volume, 16 decreased in volume, and six disappeared. No tumor progressed at any time, and there were no radiation-induced changes on follow-up imaging an average of 21 months after GS (range 3–63 months).

Conclusions. Gamma surgery provides an alternative to surgical resection of metastatic brain deposits from renal cell carcinoma. Neurological side effects were seen in only one case; freedom from progression of disease was achieved in all cases.

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Vincenzo Mingione, Marcelo Oliveira, Dheerendra Prasad, Melita Steiner, and Ladislau Steiner

Object. The aim of this study was to evaluate the usefulness and limitations of gamma surgery (GS) in the treatment of brain metastases from melanoma.

Methods. Imaging and clinical outcomes in 45 patients treated for 92 brain metastases from melanoma between October 1989 and October 1999 were retrospectively analyzed. Follow-up imaging studies were available in 35 patients with 66 treated lesions. Twenty-four percent of the lesions disappeared, 35% shrank, 23% remained unchanged, and 18% increased in size. No undue radiation-induced changes were observed in the surrounding brain. Clinical data were available in all patients. No deaths or neurological morbidity related to GS was observed. The median survival time, calculated using the Kaplan—Meier method, was 10.4 months from the time of GS. In both univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses, a single brain lesion and lack of visceral metastases were statistically predictive of a better prognosis. Six of eight patients with solitary metastasis (that is, a single brain metastasis with no primary visceral tumor) were still alive at the close of the study, none of them with disease progression, with a follow-up period ranging between 14 and 82 months. Sixteen patients in this series received adjunctive whole-brain radiation therapy, which had no impact on their survival time or local and distant control of the brain disease.

Conclusions. Gamma surgery is effective in treating melanoma metastases in the brain. It appears that the radiobiology of a single high dose overcomes the radioresistance barrier, yielding better results than fractionated radiation.

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Hung-Chuan Pan, Jason Sheehan, Matei Stroila, Melita Steiner, and Ladislau Steiner

Object. The authors present data concerning the development of cysts following gamma knife surgery (GKS) in 1203 consecutive patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) treated by the senior author (L.S.). The cyst was defined as a fluid-filled cavity at the site of a treated AVM. Cases involving regions corresponding to previous hematoma cavities were excluded. The incidence of cyst formation was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging studies performed in 196 cases with more than 10 years of follow up, in 332 cases with 5 to 10 years of follow up, and in 675 cases with less than 5 years of follow up. One hundred five cases were lost to follow-up study. The Cox regression method was used to analyze the factors related to cyst formation.

Methods. The incidence of cyst formation in the entire patient population was 1.6 and 3.6% in those undergoing follow-up examination for more than 5 years. Ten of 20 cysts developed between 10 to 23 years, nine between 5 to 10 years, and one in less than 5 years following the treatment. Cyst fluid aspiration, cystoperitoneal shunt placement, or craniotomy were used in three symptomatic cases. Analysis of age, sex, and treatment parameters yielded no significant relationship with cyst formation; however, radiation-induced tissue change following GKS (p = 0.027) and prior embolization (p = 0.011) were related to cyst formation.

Conclusions. Overall, the incidence of cyst formation in patients who underwent GKS for AVM was 1.6%. The development of the cyst was related to the duration of the follow-up period. When cysts are symptomatic, surgical intervention should be performed.

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Peter Varady, Jason Sheehan, Melita Steiner, and Ladislau Steiner

Heading : Chun Po Yen


Subtotal obliteration of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) after Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) implies a complete angiographic disappearance of the AVM nidus but persistence of an early filling draining vein, indicating that residual shunting is still present; hence, per definition there is still a patent AVM and the risk of bleeding is not eliminated. The aim of this study was to determine the risk of hemorrhage for patients with subtotal obliteration of AVMs.


After GKS for cerebral AVMs, follow-up angiography demonstrated a subtotally obliterated lesion in 159 patients. Of these, in 16 patients a subtotally obliterated AVM developed after a second GKS was performed for the partially obliterated lesion. The mean age of these patients was 35.2 years at the time of the diagnosis of subtotally obliterated AVMs. The lesion volumes at the time of initial GKS treatment ranged from 0.1 to 11.5 cm3 (mean 2.5 cm3). The mean peripheral dose used in the 175 GKS treatments was 22.5 Gy (median 23 Gy, range 15–31 Gy). To achieve total obliteration of the AVM, 23 patients underwent a new GKS targeting the proximal end of the early filling vein. The mean peripheral dose given in these cases was 23 Gy (median 24, range 18–25 Gy).

The incidence of subtotally obliterated AVMs was 7.6% from a total of 2093 AVMs treated and in which follow-up imaging was available. The diagnosis of subtotally obliterated AVMs was made a mean of 29.4 months (range 4–178 months) after GKS. The number of patient-years at risk (from the time of the diagnosis of subtotally obliterated AVMs until either the confirmation of a total obliteration of the lesion on angiography or the time of the latest follow-up angio-graphic study that still visualized the early filling vein) was a mean of 3.9 years, ranging from 0.5 to 13.5 years, and a total of 601 patient-years. There was no case of bleeding after the diagnosis of subtotally obliterated AVMs. Of 90 patients who did not undergo further treatment and in whom follow-up angiography studies were available, the same early filling veins still filled in 24 (26.7%), and the subtotally obliterated AVMs were subsequently obliterated in 66 patients (73.3%). In 19 patients who underwent repeated GKS for subtotally obliterated AVMs and in whom follow-up angiography studies were available, the AVMs were obliterated in 15 (78.9%) and remained patent in four (21.1%).


The fact that none of the patients with subtotally obliterated AVMs suffered a rupture is not compatible with the assumption of an unchanged risk of hemorrhage for these lesions, and implies that the protection from re-bleeding in patients with subtotal obliteration is significant. Subtotal obliteration does not necessarily seem to be a stage of an ongoing obliteration. At least in some cases it represents an end point of this process, with no subsequent obliteration occurring. This observation requires further confirmation by open-ended follow-up imaging.