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Rocco A. Armonda, Jeffrey E. Thomas and Robert H. Rosenwasser

The authors present the unique experience of one neurovascular service under the direct supervision of the senior author, for which surgical, endovascular, and intensive care treatments were conducted in a select group of 32 patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage who had medically intractable symptomatic vasospasm.

A protocol of early and aggressive treatment was instituted using pentobarbital coma, cerebral angioplasty, and intracranial pressure (ICP) reduction. The patient population consisted of 25 women and seven men, whose ages ranged from 34 to 60 years (average 47 years). The patients' Hunt and Hess grades on presentation were as follows: Grade 0 (one); Grade I (three); Grade II (two); Grade III (nine); Grade IV (10); Grade V (seven). Microsurgical clipping alone was performed in 15 of 32 patients, endosaccular occlusion was performed in 17 of 20 patients, and two patients underwent combined treatment. Subsequent angioplasty was performed in 26 of 32 patients. Additionally, all 32 patients underwent treatment of increased ICP with ventriculostomy placement, removal of the bone flap (11), evacuation of associated intracranial hematoma (five), and decompressive obectomy (four).

Twenty-one patients survived and 11 died. Of the 21 survivors, seven have returned to work, live independently, and have no neurological deficits; eight require minimal assistance at home; four are in rehabilitation with moderate deficits at 3 months; and two remain in a persistent vegetative state.

In this group of aggressively treated patients who received pentobarbital cerebral protection, successful treatment of medically intractable cerebral vasospasm was related to time of treatment (< 2 hours), expeditious reduction of elevated ICP, and angioplasty.

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Rocco A. Armonda, Jeffrey E. Thomas and Robert H. Rosenwasser

Endovascular surgical technology is in the early stages of evolution. A critical phase of this development has been microcatheter technology, which has permitted sufficiently precise intravascular navigation to safely engage the lumen of the aneurysm itself. Digital subtraction angiography, rapid filming techniques and image acquisition, and simultaneous multiplanar imaging capability are indispensable tools that are constantly being refined in the setting of ever-improving computer technology. The marriage of these different technologies has allowed effective endovascular treatment of difficult-to-access aneurysms in medically compromised patients for whom open microsurgery has inherently higher risks.

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Sudhakar Vadivelu, Randy Scott Bell, Ben Crandall, Tom DeGraba and Rocco A. Armonda

Blast-induced neurotrauma is a leading cause of military casualties. Its effects on cerebrovascular structures are not well understood. Vascular injury resulting from overpressure shock wave impact may have a delayed presentation and detection. The authors present the cases of 2 patients who sustained blast-induced craniofacial trauma and brain injury. Detection of a cervical dissection was delayed in one patient, and detection of carotid-cavernous fistulas was delayed in both patients. The authors report the successful obliteration of both the dissection and the carotidcavernous fistulas via an endovascular approach. Endovascular management provides both a reasonable and effective therapeutic option to blast-induced cerebrovascular injuries.

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Ronald P. Benitez, Rocco A. Armonda, James Harrop, Jeffrey E. Thomas and Robert H. Rosenwasser

Carotid endarterectomy for atherosclerotic occlusive disease has become the standard of care for the treatment of symptomatic and asymptomatic occlusive disease of the carotid bifurcation, based on the results of the North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial, as well as the Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerosis Study. For surgical treatment to be of benefit, the perioperative complication rate for neurological events should be 6% or less in the symptomatic population and 3% or less in the asymptomatic group. The performance of carotid endarterectomy for recurrent stenosis and radiation-induced stenosis has reported neurological events ranging from 4 to 10%. It is in this particular population that carotid angioplasty and stent placement may play a role.

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 11 patients who underwent carotid angioplasty and stent placement for recurrent or radiation-induced stenosis. One patient in whom endarterectomy was performed by the vascular surgery service had a critical stenosis distal to the endarterectomy site and awoke with a neurological deficit. This patient underwent reexploration and placement of a stent in the artery distal to the arteriotomy site.

The follow-up period ranged from 7 to 12 months. Patient age ranged from 65 to 77 years (mean 75 years). Five of eight patients underwent angioplasty and stent placement for recurrent atherosclerotic disease. Two patients had radiation-induced stenosis, and one patient had a stent placed intraoperatively. All patients, with the exception of the one who underwent intraoperative stent placement, had posttreatment stenoses of less than 15%. The surgical patient had a 30% residual stenosis distally. There were no intra- or postoperative transient ischemic attacks, major or minor strokes, or deaths.

Patients who have recurrent or radiation-induced stenosis are potential candidates for angioplasty and stent placement. Before this can be recommended as an alternative to surgical correction, a longer follow-up period is required.

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Richard G. Ellenbogen, Rocco A. Armonda, Dennis W. W. Shaw and H. Richard Winn

In patients with Chiari I malformation with and without associated syringomyelia, aberrant cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics and a spectrum of posterior fossa pathological findings are demonstrated. In this study, the authors test the validity of using prospective cardiac-gated phase-contrast cine-mode magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to define the malformation, delineate its pathophysiology, and assist in implementing a rational treatment plan.

Eighty-five cases were prospectively analyzed using cine MR imaging. Sixty-five patients, adults and children, with symptomatic Chiari malformation, with and without syringomyelia, were surgically treated from 1990 to 1999. All patients underwent pre- and postoperative cine MR evaluation. Ten patients were treated after a previous surgical procedure had failed. To establish CSF flow characteristics and normative CSF profiles, 20 healthy volunteers were examined.

Compared with normal volunteers, in Chiari I malformation patients with and without syringomyelia, uniformly abnormal craniocervical junction CSF flow profiles were revealed. After intradural exploration, nearly all patients with Chiari I malformation experienced clinical improvement and CSF flow profiles, paralleling those of normal volunteers, were shown. In all patients in whom treatment had failed, abnormal preoperative CSF flow profiles, which correlated with suspected physiological abnormalities and the pathological findings noted at reoperation, were demonstrated.

Symptomatic Chiari I malformation is a dynamic process characterized by the impaction of the hindbrain in an abnormal posterior fossa. This compression obstructs the normal venting of CSF in and out of the craniocervical sub-arachnoid space, throughout the cardiac cycle. Therefore, decompression or enlargement of the posterior fossa to establish normal CSF pathways should be the primary goal of surgical intervention. Aberrant CSF flow appears to be only one aspect of the pathological condition found in patients with Chiari I malformation. Arachnoid scarring in the posterior fossa and selective vulnerability of the spinal cord may also be factors in the pathogenesis and maintenance of associated syringomyelia. Phase-contrast cine MR imaging is a useful tool in defining physiological and anatomical problems in patients with Chiari I and syringomyelia, and it can help guide an appropriate primary or salvage surgical therapy.

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Brian T. Ragel, Paul Klimo Jr., Jonathan E. Martin, Richard J. Teff, Hans E. Bakken and Rocco A. Armonda

Object

Decompressive craniectomy (DC) with dural expansion is a life-saving neurosurgical procedure performed for recalcitrant intracranial hypertension due to trauma, stroke, and a multitude of other etiologies. Illustratively, we describe technique and lessons learned using DC for battlefield trauma.

Methods

Neurosurgical operative logs from service (October 2007 to September 2009) in Afghanistan that detail DC cases for trauma were analyzed. Illustrative examples of frontotemporoparietal and bifrontal DC that depict battlefield experience performing these procedures are presented with attention drawn to the L.G. Kempe hemispherectomy incision, brainstem decompression techniques, and dural onlay substitutes.

Results

Ninety craniotomies were performed for trauma over the time period analyzed. Of these, 28 (31%) were DCs. Of the 28 DCs, 24 (86%) were frontotemporoparietal DCs, 7 (25%) were bifrontal DCs, and 2 (7%) were suboccipital DCs. Decompressive craniectomies were performed for 19 penetrating head injuries (13 gunshot wounds and 6 explosions) and 9 severe closed head injuries (6 war-related explosions and 3 others).

Conclusions

Thirty-one percent of craniotomies performed for trauma were DCs. Battlefield neurosurgeons use DC to allow for safe transfer of neurologically ill patients to tertiary military hospitals, which can be located 8–18 hours from a war zone. The authors recommend the L.G. Kempe incision for blood supply preservation, large craniectomies to prevent brain strangulation over bone edges, minimal brain debridement, adequate brainstem decompression, and dural onlay substitutes for dural closure.

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Zachary S. Hubbard, Fraser Henderson Jr., Rocco A. Armonda, Alejandro M. Spiotta, Robert Rosenbaum and Fraser Henderson Sr.

On a Sunday morning at 06:22 on October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon, a semitrailer filled with TNT sped through the guarded barrier into the ground floor of the Civilian Aviation Authority and exploded, killing and wounding US Marines from the 1st Battalion 8th Regiment (2nd Division), as well as the battalion surgeon and deployed corpsmen. The truck bomb explosion, estimated to be the equivalent of 21,000 lbs of TNT, and regarded as the largest nonnuclear explosion since World War II, caused what was then the most lethal single-day death toll for the US Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Considerable neurological injury resulted from the bombing. Of the 112 survivors, 37 had head injuries, 2 had spinal cord injuries, and 9 had peripheral nerve injuries. Concussion, scalp laceration, and skull fracture were the most common cranial injuries.

Within minutes of the explosion, the Commander Task Force 61/62 Mass Casualty Plan was implemented by personnel aboard the USS Iwo Jima. The wounded were triaged according to standard protocol at the time. Senator Humphreys, chairman of the Preparedness Committee and a corpsman in the Korean War, commented that he had never seen such a well-executed evolution. This was the result of meticulous preparation that included training not only of the medical personnel but also of volunteers from the ship’s company, frequent drilling with other shipboard units, coordination of resources throughout the ship, the presence of a meticulous senior enlisted man who carefully registered each of the wounded, the presence of trained security forces, and a drilled and functioning communication system.

Viewed through the lens of a neurosurgeon, the 1983 bombings and mass casualty event impart important lessons in preparedness. Medical personnel should be trained specifically to handle the kinds of injuries anticipated and should rehearse the mass casualty event on a regular basis using mock-up patients. Neurosurgery staff should participate in training and planning for events alongside other clinicians. Training of nurses, corpsmen, and also nonmedical personnel is essential. In a large-scale evolution, nonmedical personnel may monitor vital signs, work as scribes or stretcher bearers, and run messages. It is incumbent upon medical providers and neurosurgeons in particular to be aware of the potential for mass casualty events and to make necessary preparations.

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Frederick L. Stephens, Correy M. Mossop, Randy S. Bell, Teodoro Tigno Jr., Michael K. Rosner, Anand Kumar, Leon E. Moores and Rocco A. Armonda

Object

In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan (OEF-A), military neurosurgeons in the combat theater are faced with the daunting task of stabilizing patients in such a way as to prevent irreversible neurological injury from cerebral edema while simultaneously allowing for prolonged transport stateside (5000–7000 miles). It is in this setting that decompressive craniectomy has become a mainstay of far-forward neurosurgical management of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

As such, institutional experience with cranioplasty at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) has expanded concomitantly. Battlefield blast explosions create cavitary injury zones that often extend beyond the border of the exposed surface wound, and this situation has created unique reconstruction challenges not often seen in civilian TBI. The loss of both soft-tissue and skull base support along with the need for cranial vault reconstruction requires a multidisciplinary approach involving neurosurgery, plastics, oral-maxillofacial surgery, and ophthalmology. With this situation in mind, the authors of this paper endeavored to review the cranial reconstruction complications encountered in these combat-related injuries.

Methods

A retrospective database review was conducted for all soldiers injured in OIF and OEF-A who had undergone decompressive craniectomy with subsequent cranioplasty between April 2002 and October 2008 at the WRAMC and NNMC. During this time, both facilities received a total of 408 OIF/OEF-A patients with severe head injuries; 188 of these patients underwent decompressive craniectomies in the theater before transfer to the US. Criteria for inclusion in this study consisted of either a closed or a penetrating head injury sustained in combat operations, resulting in the performance of a decompressive craniectomy and subsequent cranioplasty at either the WRAMC or NNMC. Excluded from the study were patients for whom primary demographic data could not be verified. Demographic data, indications for craniectomy, as well as preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative parameters following cranioplasty, were recorded. Perioperative and postoperative complications were also recorded.

Results

One hundred eight patients (male/female ratio 107:1) met the inclusion criteria for this study, 93 with a penetrating head injury and 15 with a closed head injury. Explosive blast injury was the predominant mechanism of injury, occurring in 72 patients (67%). The average time that elapsed between injury and cranioplasty was 190 days (range 7–546 days). An overall complication rate of 24% was identified. The prevalence of perioperative infection (12%), seizure (7.4%), and extraaxial hematoma formation (7.4%) was noted. Twelve patients (11%) required prosthetic removal because of either extraaxial hematoma formation or infection. Eight of the 13 cases of infection involved cranioplasties performed between 90 and 270 days from the date of injury (p = 0.06).

Conclusions

This study represents the largest to date in which cranioplasty and its complications have been evaluated in a trauma population that underwent decompressive craniectomy. The overall complication rate of 24% is consistent with rates reported in the literature (16–34%); however, the perioperative infection rate of 12% is higher than the rates reported in other studies. This difference is likely related to aspects of the initial injury pattern—such as skull base injury, orbitofacial fractures, sinus injuries, persistent fluid collection, and CSF leakage—which can predispose these patients to infection.

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David W. Herzig, Andrew B. Stemer, Randy S. Bell, Ai-Hsi Liu, Rocco A. Armonda and William O. Bank

Stenosis of central veins (brachiocephalic vein [BCV] and superior vena cava) occurs in 30% of hemodialysis patients, rarely producing intracranial pathology. The authors present the first cases of BCV stenosis causing perimesencephalic subarachnoid hemorrhage and myoclonic epilepsy.

In the first case, a 73-year-old man on hemodialysis presented with headache and blurry vision, and was admitted with presumed idiopathic intracranial hypertension after negative CT studies and confirmatory lumbar puncture. The patient mildly improved until hospital Day 3, when he experienced a seizure; emergency CT scans showed perimesencephalic subarachnoid hemorrhage. Cerebral angiography failed to find any vascular abnormality, but demonstrated venous congestion. A fistulogram found left BCV occlusion with jugular reflux. The occlusion could not be reopened percutaneously and required open fistula ligation. Postoperatively, symptoms resolved and the patient remained intact at 7-month follow-up.

In the second case, a 67-year-old woman on hemodialysis presented with right arm weakness and myoclonic jerks. Admission MRI revealed subcortical edema and a possible dural arteriovenous fistula. Cerebral angiography showed venous engorgement, but no vascular malformation. A fistulogram found left BCV stenosis with jugular reflux, which was immediately reversed with angioplasty and stent placement. Postprocedure the patient was seizure free, and her strength improved. Seven months later the patient presented in myoclonic status epilepticus, and a fistulogram revealed stent occlusion. Angioplasty successfully reopened the stent and she returned to baseline; she was seizure free at 4-month follow-up.

Central venous stenosis is common with hemodialysis, but rarely presents with neurological findings. Prompt recognition and endovascular intervention can restore normal venous drainage and resolve symptoms.

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Randy S. Bell, Robert D. Ecker, Meryl A. Severson III, John E. Wanebo, Benjamin Crandall and Rocco A. Armonda

The approach to traumatic craniocervical vascular injury has evolved significantly in recent years. Conflicts prior to Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom were characterized by minimal intervention in the setting of severe penetrating head injury, in large part due to limited far-forward resource availability. Consequently, sequelae of penetrating head injury like traumatic aneurysm formation remained poorly characterized with a paucity of pathophysiological descriptions. The current conflicts have seen dramatic improvements with respect to the management of severe penetrating and closed head injuries. As a result of the rapid field resuscitation and early cranial decompression, patients are surviving longer, which has led to diagnosis and treatment of entities that had previously gone undiagnosed. Therefore, in this paper the authors' purpose is to review their experience with severe traumatic brain injury complicated by injury to the craniocervical vasculature. Historical approaches will be reviewed, and the importance of modern endovascular techniques will be emphasized.