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Luis E. Savastano, Todd C. Hollon, Ariel L. Barkan, and Stephen E. Sullivan

Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by a severe deficiency of thiamine that is most commonly observed in alcoholics. However, some have proposed that focal structural lesions disrupting memory circuits—in particular, the mammillary bodies, the mammillothalamic tract, and the anterior thalamus—can give rise to this amnestic syndrome. Here, the authors present 4 patients with reversible Korsakoff syndromes caused by suprasellar retrochiasmatic lesions compressing the mammillary bodies and adjacent caudal hypothalamic structures.

Three of the patients were found to have large pituitary macroadenomas in their workup for memory deficiency and cognitive decline with minimal visual symptoms. These tumors extended superiorly into the suprasellar region in a retrochiasmatic position and caused significant mass effect in the bilateral mammillary bodies in the base of the brain. These 3 patients had complete and rapid resolution of amnestic problems shortly after initiation of treatment, consisting of resection in 1 case of nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma or cabergoline therapy in 2 cases of prolactinoma. The fourth patient presented with bizarre and hostile behavior along with significant memory deficits and was found to have a large cystic craniopharyngioma filling the third ventricle and compressing the midline diencephalic structures. This patient underwent cyst fenestration and tumor debulking, with a rapid improvement in his mental status. The rapid and dramatic memory improvement observed in all of these cases is probably due to a reduction in the pressure imposed by the lesions on structures contiguous to the third ventricle, rather than a direct destructive effect of the tumor, and highlights the essential role of the caudal diencephalic structures—mainly the mammillary bodies—in memory function.

In summary, large pituitary lesions with suprasellar retrochiasmatic extension and third ventricular craniopharyngiomas can cause severe Korsakoff-like amnestic syndromes, probably because of bilateral pressure on or damage to mammillary bodies, anterior thalamic nuclei, or their major connections. Neuropsychiatric symptoms may rapidly and completely reverse shortly after initiation of therapy via surgical decompression of tumors or pharmacological treatment of prolactinomas. Early identification of these lesions with timely treatment can lead to a favorable prognosis for this severe neuropsychiatric disorder.

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Pablo Sosa, Manuel Dujovny, Ibe Onyekachi, Noressia Sockwell, Fabián Cremaschi, and Luis E. Savastano

OBJECT

The cerebellopontine angle is a common site for tumor growth and vascular pathologies requiring surgical manipulations that jeopardize cranial nerve integrity and cerebellar and brainstem perfusion. To date, a detailed study of vessels perforating the cisternal surface of the middle cerebellar peduncle—namely, the paraflocculus or parafloccular perforating space—has yet to be published. In this report, the perforating vessels of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) in the parafloccular space, or on the cisternal surface of the middle cerebellar peduncle, are described to elucidate their relevance pertaining to microsurgery and the different pathologies that occur at the cerebellopontine angle.

METHODS

Fourteen cadaveric cerebellopontine cisterns (CPCs) were studied. Anatomical dissections and analysis of the perforating arteries of the AICA and posterior inferior cerebellar artery at the parafloccular space were recorded using direct visualization by surgical microscope, optical histology, and scanning electron microscope. A comprehensive review of the English-language and Spanish-language literature was also performed, and findings related to anatomy, histology, physiology, neurology, neuroradiology, microsurgery, and endovascular surgery pertaining to the cerebellar flocculus or parafloccular spaces are summarized.

RESULTS

A total of 298 perforating arteries were found in the dissected specimens, with a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 26 vessels per parafloccular perforating space. The average outer diameter of the cisternal portion of the perforating arteries was 0.11 ± 0.042 mm (mean ± SD) and the average length was 2.84 ± 1.2 mm. Detailed schematics and the surgical anatomy of the perforating vessels at the CPC and their clinical relevance are reported.

CONCLUSIONS

The parafloccular space is a key entry point for many perforating vessels toward the middle cerebellar peduncle and lateral brainstem, and it must be respected and protected during surgical approaches to the cerebellopontine angle.

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Joseph R. Linzey, James F. Burke, Jeffrey L. Nadel, Craig A. Williamson, Luis E. Savastano, D. Andrew Wilkinson, and Aditya S. Pandey

OBJECTIVE

It is unknown what proportion of patients who undergo emergent neurosurgical procedures initiate comfort care (CC) measures shortly after the operation. The purpose of the present study was to analyze the proportion and predictive factors of patients who initiated CC measures within the same hospital admission after undergoing emergent neurosurgery.

METHODS

This retrospective cohort study included all adult patients who underwent emergent neurosurgical and endovascular procedures at a single center between 2009 and 2014. Primary and secondary outcomes were initiation of CC measures during the initial hospitalization and determination of predictive factors, respectively.

RESULTS

Of the 1295 operations, comfort care was initiated in 111 (8.6%) during the initial admission. On average, CC was initiated 9.3 ± 10.0 days postoperatively. One-third of the patients switched to CC within 3 days. In multivariate analysis, patients > 70 years of age were significantly more likely to undergo CC than those < 50 years (70–79 years, p = 0.004; > 80 years, p = 0.0001). Two-thirds of CC patients had been admitted with a cerebrovascular pathology (p < 0.001). Admission diagnosis of cerebrovascular pathology was a significant predictor of initiating CC (p < 0.0001). A high Hunt and Hess grade of IV or V in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage was significantly associated with initiation of CC compared to a low grade (27.1% vs 2.9%, p < 0.001). Surgery starting between 15:01 and 06:59 hours had a 1.70 times greater odds of initiating CC compared to surgery between 07:00 and 15:00.

CONCLUSIONS

Initiation of CC after emergent neurosurgical and endovascular procedures is relatively common, particularly when an elderly patient presents with a cerebrovascular pathology after typical operating hours.

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Bruce L. Tai, Deborah Rooney, Francesca Stephenson, Peng-Siang Liao, Oren Sagher, Albert J. Shih, and Luis E. Savastano

In this paper, the authors present a physical model developed to simulate accurate external ventricular drain (EVD) placement with realistic haptic and visual feedbacks to serve as a platform for complete procedural training. Insertion of an EVD via ventriculostomy is a common neurosurgical procedure used to monitor intracranial pressures and/or drain CSF. Currently, realistic training tools are scarce and mainly limited to virtual reality simulation systems. The use of 3D printing technology enables the development of realistic anatomical structures and customized design for physical simulators. In this study, the authors used the advantages of 3D printing to directly build the model geometry from stealth head CT scans and build a phantom brain mold based on 3D scans of a plastinated human brain. The resultant simulator provides realistic haptic feedback during a procedure, with visualization of catheter trajectory and fluid drainage. A multiinstitutional survey was also used to prove content validity of the simulator. With minor refinement, this simulator is expected to be a cost-effective tool for training neurosurgical residents in EVD placement.

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Daniel Gebrezgiabhier, Yang Liu, Adithya S. Reddy, Evan Davis, Yihao Zheng, Albert J. Shih, Aditya S. Pandey, and Luis E. Savastano

OBJECTIVE

Endovascular removal of emboli causing large vessel occlusion (LVO)–related stroke utilizing suction catheter and/or stent retriever technologies or thrombectomy is a new standard of care. Despite high recanalization rates, 40% of stroke patients still experience poor neurological outcomes as many cases cannot be fully reopened after the first attempt. The development of new endovascular technologies and techniques for mechanical thrombectomy requires more sophisticated testing platforms that overcome the limitations of phantom-based simulators. The authors investigated the use of a hybrid platform for LVO stroke constructed with cadaveric human brains.

METHODS

A test bed for embolic occlusion of cerebrovascular arteries and mechanical thrombectomy was developed with cadaveric human brains, a customized hydraulic system to generate physiological flow rate and pressure, and three types of embolus analogs (elastic, stiff, and fragment-prone) engineered to match mechanically and phenotypically the emboli causing LVO strokes. LVO cases were replicated in the anterior and posterior circulation, and thrombectomy was attempted using suction catheters and/or stent retrievers.

RESULTS

The test bed allowed radiation-free visualization of thrombectomy for LVO stroke in real cerebrovascular anatomy and flow conditions by transmural visualization of the intraluminal elements and procedures. The authors were able to successfully replicate 105 LVO cases with 184 passes in 12 brains (51 LVO cases and 82 passes in the anterior circulation, and 54 LVO cases and 102 passes in the posterior circulation). Observed recanalization rates in this model were graded using a Recanalization in LVO (RELVO) scale analogous to other measures of recanalization outcomes in clinical use.

CONCLUSIONS

The human brain platform introduced and validated here enables the analysis of artery-embolus-device interaction under physiological hemodynamic conditions within the unmodified complexity of the cerebral vasculature inside the human brain.

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Adithya S. Reddy, Yang Liu, Joshua Cockrum, Daniel Gebrezgiabhier, Evan Davis, Yihao Zheng, Aditya S. Pandey, Albert J. Shih, and Luis E. Savastano

OBJECTIVE

The development of new endovascular technologies and techniques for mechanical thrombectomy in stroke has greatly relied on benchtop simulators. This paper presents an affordable, versatile, and realistic benchtop simulation model for stroke.

METHODS

A test bed for embolic occlusion of cerebrovascular arteries and mechanical thrombectomy was developed with 3D-printed and commercially available cerebrovascular phantoms, a customized hydraulic system to generate physiological flow rate and pressure, and 2 types of embolus analogs (elastic and fragment-prone) capable of causing embolic occlusions under physiological flow.

RESULTS

The test bed was highly versatile and allowed realistic, radiation-free mechanical thrombectomy for stroke due to large-vessel occlusion with rapid exchange of geometries and phantom types. Of the transparent cerebrovascular phantoms tested, the 3D-printed phantom was the easiest to manufacture, the glass model offered the best visibility of the interaction between embolus and thrombectomy device, and the flexible model most accurately mimicked the endovascular system during device navigation. None of the phantoms modeled branches smaller than 1 mm or perforating arteries, and none underwent realistic deformation or luminal collapse from device manipulation or vacuum. The hydraulic system created physiological flow rate and pressure leading to iatrogenic embolization during thrombectomy in all phantoms. Embolus analogs with known fabrication technique, structure, and tensile strength were introduced and consistently occluded the middle cerebral artery bifurcation under physiological flow, and their interaction with the device was accurately visualized.

CONCLUSIONS

The test bed presented in this study is a low-cost, comprehensive, realistic, and versatile platform that enabled high-quality analysis of embolus–device interaction in multiple cerebrovascular phantoms and embolus analogs.

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Yang Liu, Yihao Zheng, Adithya S. Reddy, Daniel Gebrezgiabhier, Evan Davis, Joshua Cockrum, Joseph J. Gemmete, Neeraj Chaudhary, Julius M. Griauzde, Aditya S. Pandey, Albert J. Shih, and Luis E. Savastano

OBJECTIVE

This study’s purpose was to improve understanding of the forces driving the complex mechanical interaction between embolic material and current stroke thrombectomy devices by analyzing the histological composition and strength of emboli retrieved from patients and by evaluating the mechanical forces necessary for retrieval of such emboli in a middle cerebral artery (MCA) bifurcation model.

METHODS

Embolus analogs (EAs) were generated and embolized under physiological pressure and flow conditions in a glass tube model of the MCA. The forces involved in EA removal using conventional endovascular techniques were described, analyzed, and categorized. Then, 16 embolic specimens were retrieved from 11 stroke patients with large-vessel occlusions, and the tensile strength and response to stress were measured with a quasi-static uniaxial tensile test using a custom-made platform. Embolus compositions were analyzed and quantified by histology.

RESULTS

Uniaxial tension on the EAs led to deformation, elongation, thinning, fracture, and embolization. Uniaxial tensile testing of patients’ emboli revealed similar soft-material behavior, including elongation under tension and differential fracture patterns. At the final fracture of the embolus (or dissociation), the amount of elongation, quantified as strain, ranged from 1.05 to 4.89 (2.41 ± 1.04 [mean ± SD]) and the embolus-generated force, quantified as stress, ranged from 63 to 2396 kPa (569 ± 695 kPa). The ultimate tensile strain of the emboli increased with a higher platelet percentage, and the ultimate tensile stress increased with a higher fibrin percentage and decreased with a higher red blood cell percentage.

CONCLUSIONS

Current thrombectomy devices remove emboli mostly by applying linear tensile forces, under which emboli elongate until dissociation. Embolus resistance to dissociation is determined by embolus strength, which significantly correlates with composition and varies within and among patients and within the same thrombus. The dynamic intravascular weakening of emboli during removal may lead to iatrogenic embolization.

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Luis E. Savastano, Neeraj Chaudhary, Joseph J. Gemmete, Hugh J. L. Garton, Cormac O. Maher, and Aditya S. Pandey

Pediatric intracranial aneurysms are rare and challenging to treat. Achieving efficacy and durability of aneurysmal occlusion while maintaining parent vessel patency requires innovative treatment strategies, especially in cases in which aneurysmal location or morphology pose substantial morbidity associated with microsurgical treatment. In the last 3 decades, endovascular treatments have had a remarkable evolution and are currently considered safe and effective therapeutic options for cerebral aneurysms. While endovascular techniques are well described in the English literature, the endovascular management of pediatric aneurysms continues to pose a challenge. In this report, the authors describe the case of a 9-month-old infant who presented with a 1-day history of acute-onset left-sided hemiparesis and left facial droop. Imaging revealed a large symptomatic saccular middle cerebral artery aneurysm. Treatment included successful stent-assisted aneurysm coiling. At follow-up, the patient continued to fare well and MR angiography confirmed complete occlusion of the aneurysm dome. This case features the youngest patient in the English literature to harbor an intracranial aneurysm successfully treated with stent-assisted coiling. Based on this experience, endovascular intervention with vascular reconstruction can be safe and effective for the treatment of infants and could further improve prognosis; however, further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

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Yang Liu, Yihao Zheng, Adithya S. Reddy, Daniel Gebrezgiabhier, Evan Davis, Joshua Cockrum, Joseph J. Gemmete, Neeraj Chaudhary, Julius M. Griauzde, Aditya S. Pandey, Albert J. Shih, and Luis E. Savastano

OBJECTIVE

This study’s purpose was to improve understanding of the forces driving the complex mechanical interaction between embolic material and current stroke thrombectomy devices by analyzing the histological composition and strength of emboli retrieved from patients and by evaluating the mechanical forces necessary for retrieval of such emboli in a middle cerebral artery (MCA) bifurcation model.

METHODS

Embolus analogs (EAs) were generated and embolized under physiological pressure and flow conditions in a glass tube model of the MCA. The forces involved in EA removal using conventional endovascular techniques were described, analyzed, and categorized. Then, 16 embolic specimens were retrieved from 11 stroke patients with large-vessel occlusions, and the tensile strength and response to stress were measured with a quasi-static uniaxial tensile test using a custom-made platform. Embolus compositions were analyzed and quantified by histology.

RESULTS

Uniaxial tension on the EAs led to deformation, elongation, thinning, fracture, and embolization. Uniaxial tensile testing of patients’ emboli revealed similar soft-material behavior, including elongation under tension and differential fracture patterns. At the final fracture of the embolus (or dissociation), the amount of elongation, quantified as strain, ranged from 1.05 to 4.89 (2.41 ± 1.04 [mean ± SD]) and the embolus-generated force, quantified as stress, ranged from 63 to 2396 kPa (569 ± 695 kPa). The ultimate tensile strain of the emboli increased with a higher platelet percentage, and the ultimate tensile stress increased with a higher fibrin percentage and decreased with a higher red blood cell percentage.

CONCLUSIONS

Current thrombectomy devices remove emboli mostly by applying linear tensile forces, under which emboli elongate until dissociation. Embolus resistance to dissociation is determined by embolus strength, which significantly correlates with composition and varies within and among patients and within the same thrombus. The dynamic intravascular weakening of emboli during removal may lead to iatrogenic embolization.