Omar Choudhri and Michael T. Lawton
The middle tentorial incisural space, located lateral to the midbrain and medial to the temporal lobe, contains the ambient cistern through which courses the third, fourth, and fifth cranial nerves, posterior cerebral artery (PCA), superior cerebellar artery, and the choroidal arteries. Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in this compartment are supplied by the thalamogeniculate and posterior temporal branches of the PCA, and drain into tributaries of the basal vein of Rosenthal. We present a case of an AVM in this middle tentorial incisural space that persisted after embolization and radiosurgery, and was microsurgically resected through a subtemporal approach. This case demonstrates the anatomy of the middle incisural space and technical aspects in microsurgical resection of these rare AVMs.
The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/V-dIWh8ys3E.
The future of open vascular neurosurgery: perspectives on cavernous malformations, AVMs, and bypasses for complex aneurysms
JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article
Michael T. Lawton and Michael J. Lang
Despite the erosion of microsurgical case volume because of advances in endovascular and radiosurgical therapies, indications remain for open resection of pathology and highly technical vascular repairs. Treatment risk, efficacy, and durability make open microsurgery a preferred option for cerebral cavernous malformations, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and many aneurysms. In this paper, a 21-year experience with 7348 cases was reviewed to identify trends in microsurgical management. Brainstem cavernous malformations (227 cases), once considered inoperable and managed conservatively, are now resected in increasing numbers through elegant skull base approaches and newly defined safe entry zones, demonstrating that microsurgical techniques can be applied in ways that generate entirely new areas of practice. Despite excellent results with microsurgery for low-grade AVMs, brain AVM management (836 cases) is being challenged by endovascular embolization and radiosurgery, as well as by randomized trials that show superior results with medical management. Reviews of ARUBA-eligible AVM patients treated at high-volume centers have demonstrated that open microsurgery with AVM resection is still better than many new techniques and less invasive approaches that are occlusive or obliterative. Although the volume of open aneurysm surgery is declining (4479 cases), complex aneurysms still require open microsurgery, often with bypass techniques. Intracranial arterial reconstructions with reimplantations, reanastomoses, in situ bypasses, and intracranial interpositional bypasses (third-generation bypasses) augment conventional extracranial-intracranial techniques (first- and second-generation bypasses) and generate innovative bypasses in deep locations, such as for anterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysms. When conventional combinations of anastomoses and suturing techniques are reshuffled, a fourth generation of bypasses results, with eight new types of bypasses. Type 4A bypasses use in situ suturing techniques within the conventional anastomosis, whereas type 4B bypasses maintain the basic construct of reimplantations or reanastomoses but use an unconventional anastomosis. Bypass surgery (605 cases) demonstrates that open microsurgery will continue to evolve. The best neurosurgeons will be needed to tackle the complex lesions that cannot be managed with other modalities. Becoming an open vascular neurosurgeon will be intensely competitive. The microvascular practice of the future will require subspecialization, collaborative team effort, an academic medical center, regional prominence, and a large catchment population, as well as a health system that funnels patients from hospital networks outside the region. Dexterity and meticulous application of microsurgical technique will remain the fundamental skills of the open vascular neurosurgeon.
Ana Rodríguez-Hernández and Michael T. Lawton
Surgical routes to posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) aneurysms are opened between the vagus (cranial nerve [CN] X), accessory (CN XI), and hypoglossal (CN XII) nerves for safe clipping, but these routes have not been systematically defined. The authors describe 3 anatomical triangles and their relationships with PICA aneurysms, routes for surgical clipping, outcomes, and angiographically demonstrated anatomy.
The vagoaccesory triangle is defined by CN X superiorly, CN XI laterally, and the medulla medially. It is divided by CN XII into the suprahypoglossal triangle (above CN XII) and the infrahypoglossal triangle (below CN XII). From a consecutive surgical series of 71 PICA aneurysms in 70 patients, 51 aneurysms were analyzed using intraoperative photographs.
Forty-three PICA aneurysms were located inside the vagoaccessory triangle and 8 were outside. Of the aneurysms inside the vagoaccessory triangle, 22 (51%) were exposed through the suprahypoglossal triangle and 19 (44%) through the infrahypoglossal triangle; 2 were between triangles. The lesions were evenly distributed between the anterior medullary (16 aneurysms), lateral medullary (19 aneurysms), and tonsillomedullary zones (16 aneurysms). Neurological and CN morbidity linked to aneurysms in the suprahypoglossal triangle was similar to that associated with aneurysms in the infrahypoglossal triangle, but no morbidity was associated with PICA aneurysms outside the vagoaccessory triangle. A distal PICA origin on angiography localized the aneurysm to the suprahypoglossal triangle in 71% of patients, and distal PICA aneurysms were localized to the infrahypoglossal triangle or outside the vagoaccessory triangle in 78% of patients.
The anatomical triangles and zones clarify the borders of operative corridors to PICA aneurysms and define the depth of dissection through the CNs. Deep dissection to aneurysms in the anterior medullary zone traverses CNs X, XI, and XII, whereas shallow dissection to aneurysms in the lateral medullary zone traverses CNs X and XI. Posterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysms outside the vagoaccessory triangle are frequently distal and superficial to the lower CNs, and associated surgical morbidity is minimal. Angiography may preoperatively localize a PICA aneurysm's triangular anatomy based on the distal PICA origin or distal aneurysm location.
Adib A. Abla and Michael T. Lawton
The authors describe their experience with intracranial-to-intracranial (IC-IC) bypasses for complex anterior cerebral artery (ACA) aneurysms with giant size, dolichoectatic morphology, or intraluminal thrombus; they determine how others have addressed the limitations of ACA bypass; and they discuss clinical indications and microsurgical technique.
A consecutive, single-surgeon experience with ACA aneurysms and bypasses over a 16-year period was retrospectively reviewed. Bypasses for ACA aneurysms reported in the literature were also reviewed.
Ten patients had aneurysms that were treated with ACA bypass as part of their surgical intervention. Four patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage and 3 patients with mass effect symptoms from giant aneurysms; 1 patient with bacterial endocarditis had a mycotic aneurysm, and 1 patient's meningioma resection was complicated by an iatrogenic pseudoaneurysm. One patient had his aneurysm discovered incidentally. There were 2 precommunicating aneurysms (A1 segment of the ACA), 5 communicating aneurysms (ACoA), and 3 postcommunicating (A2–A3 segments of the ACA). In situ bypasses were used in 4 patients (A3-A3 bypass), interposition bypasses in 4 patients, reimplantation in 1 patient (pericallosal artery-to-callosomarginal artery), and reanastomosis in 1 patient (pericallosal artery). Complete aneurysm obliteration was demonstrated in 8 patients, and bypass patency was demonstrated in 8 patients. One bypass thrombosed, but 4 years later. There were no operative deaths, and permanent neurological morbidity was observed in 2 patients. At last follow-up, 8 patients (80%) were improved or unchanged. In a review of the 29 relevant reports, the A3-A3 in situ bypass was used most commonly, extracranial (EC)–IC interpositional bypasses were the second most common, and reanastomosis and reimplantation were used the least.
Anterior cerebral artery aneurysms requiring bypass are rare and can be revascularized in a variety of ways. Anterior cerebral artery aneurysms, more than any other aneurysms, require a thorough survey of patient-specific anatomy and microsurgical options before deciding on an individualized management strategy. The authors' experience demonstrates a preference for IC-IC reconstruction, but EC-IC bypasses are reported frequently in the literature. The authors conclude that ACA bypass with indirect aneurysm occlusion is a good alternative to direct clip reconstruction for complex ACA aneurysms.
Roberto C. Heros
Adib A. Abla and Michael T. Lawton
Jason M. Davies and Michael T. Lawton
Treatment of cerebrovascular malformations has grown in complexity with the development of multimodal approaches, including microsurgery, endovascular treatments, and radiosurgery. In spite of this changing standard of care, the provision of care continues across a variety of settings. The authors sought to determine the risk of adverse outcome after treatment of patients with vascular malformations in the US. Patient, surgeon, and hospital characteristics, including volume, were tested as potential outcome predictors.
The authors examined data collected between 2000 and 2009 in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database, assessing safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness. They performed multivariate analyses of trends in microsurgical, radiosurgical, and endovascular treatment by hospital and surgeon volume, using death, routine discharge percentage, length of stay (LOS), complications, and hospital charges as end points. They further computed the value of care, which was defined as the ratio of the functional outcome (routine discharge percentage) to cost of care to the payer (hospital charges).
The authors identified 8227 patients with vascular malformations who were treated at US hospitals. Hospitals and surgeons were classified by yearly case volume. Compared with low-volume hospitals (2 or fewer cases/year), high-volume hospitals (16 or more cases/year) had shorter LOS (3 vs 2 days, p = 0.005), higher total charges ($37,374 vs $19,986, p = 0.003), more frequent discharge to home (p < 0.001), and lower mortality rates (0.7% vs 1.16%, p = 0.010). High-volume surgeons (7 or more cases/year) likewise had superior outcomes compared with low-volume surgeons (1 or fewer cases/year), with shorter LOS (2 vs 3 days, p = 0.03), more frequent discharge to home (p < 0.001), and lower mortality rates (0.7% vs 1.10%, p = 0.005). Underlying these outcomes, the rates of intervention for surgery, angiography, embolization, and radiosurgery were likewise significantly different in high- versus low-volume practices.
Based on these results the authors modeled how outcomes might change if care were consolidated at designated centers of excellence (COEs), and found that on an annual basis, care at high-volume hospital COEs would result in 18.5 fewer deaths, 1252.1 fewer hospital days, 182.7 more discharges home without additional services, 48.5 fewer medical complications, and 117.4 fewer perioperative complications. Surgeon-level rates for high-volume COEs demonstrated an even larger benefit over current standards, with 27.4 fewer deaths, 10,713.7 fewer hospital days, a $51.6-million reduction in charges, 370.9 additional routine discharges, and reduced complications in all categories (27.8 fewer surgical, 198.0 fewer medical, and 32.1 fewer perioperative) compared with care at non-COEs.
For patients with vascular malformations who were treated in the US between 2000 and 2009, treatment performed at high-volume centers was associated with significantly lower morbidity and, for high-volume surgeons, with lower mortality rates. These data suggest that treatment by high-volume institutions and surgeons will yield superior outcomes and superior value. The authors therefore advocate the creation of care paradigms that triage patients to high-volume institutions and surgeons, which can serve as cerebrovascular COEs.
Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler, and Michael T. Lawton
Deep medial parietooccipital arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are traditionally resected through an ipsilateral posterior interhemispheric approach (IPIA), which creates a deep, perpendicular perspective with limited access to the lateral margins of the lesion. The contralateral posterior interhemispheric approach (CPIA) flips the positioning, with the midline positioned horizontally for retraction due to gravity, but with the AVM on the upper side and the approach from the contralateral, lower side. The aim of this paper was to analyze whether the perpendicular angle of attack that is used in IPIA would convert to a parallel angle of attack with the CPIA, with less retraction, improved working angles, and no significant increase in risk.
A retrospective review of pre- and postoperative clinical and radiographic data was performed in 8 patients who underwent a CPIA.
Three AVMs and 5 CCMs were resected using the CPIA, with an average nidus size of 2.3 cm and CCM diameter of 1.7 cm. All lesions were resected completely, as confirmed on postoperative catheter angiography or MRI. All patients had good neurological outcomes, with either stable or improved modified Rankin Scale scores at last follow-up.
The CPIA is a safe alternative approach to the IPIA for deep medial parietooccipital vascular malformations that extend 2 cm or more off the midline. Contralaterality and retraction due to gravity optimize the interhemispheric corridor, the surgical trajectory to the lesion, and the visualization of the lateral margin, without resection or retraction of adjacent normal cortex. Although the falx is a physical barrier to accessing the lesion, it stabilizes the ipsilateral hemisphere while gravity delivers the dissected lesion through the transfalcine window. Patient positioning, CSF drainage, venous preservation, and meticulous dissection of the deep margins are critical to the safety of this approach.
Suzanne M. Michalak, John D. Rolston, and Michael T. Lawton
Surgery requires careful coordination of multiple team members, each playing a vital role in mitigating errors. Previous studies have focused on eliciting errors from only the attending surgeon, likely missing events observed by other team members.
Surveys were administered to the attending surgeon, resident surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nursing staff immediately following each of 31 cerebrovascular surgeries; participants were instructed to record any deviation from optimal course (DOC). DOCs were categorized and sorted by reporter and perioperative timing, then correlated with delays and outcome measures.
Errors were recorded in 93.5% of the 31 cases surveyed. The number of errors recorded per case ranged from 0 to 8, with an average of 3.1 ± 2.1 errors (± SD). Overall, technical errors were most common (24.5%), followed by communication (22.4%), management/judgment (16.0%), and equipment (11.7%). The resident surgeon reported the most errors (52.1%), followed by the circulating nurse (31.9%), the attending surgeon (26.6%), and the anesthesiologist (14.9%). The attending and resident surgeons were most likely to report technical errors (52% and 30.6%, respectively), while anesthesiologists and circulating nurses mostly reported anesthesia errors (36%) and communication errors (50%), respectively. The overlap in reported errors was 20.3%. If this study had used only the surveys completed by the attending surgeon, as in prior studies, 72% of equipment errors, 90% of anesthesia and communication errors, and 100% of nursing errors would have been missed. In addition, it would have been concluded that errors occurred in only 45.2% of cases (rather than 93.5%) and that errors resulting in a delay occurred in 3.2% of cases instead of the 74.2% calculated using data from 4 team members. Compiled results from all team members yielded significant correlations between technical DOCs and prolonged hospital stays and reported and actual delays (p = 0.001 and p = 0.028, respectively).
This study is the only of its kind to elicit error reporting from multiple members of the operating team, and it demonstrates error is truly in the eye of the beholder—the types and timing of perioperative errors vary based on whom you ask. The authors estimate that previous studies surveying only the attending physician missed up to 75% of perioperative errors. By finding significant correlations between technical DOCs and prolonged hospital stays and reported and actual delays, this study shows that these surveys provide relevant and useful information for improving clinical practice. Overall, the results of this study emphasize that research on medical error must include input from all members of the operating team; it is only by understanding every perspective that surgical staff can begin to efficiently prevent errors, improve patient care and safety, and decrease delays.