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Saul F. Morales-Valero and Giuseppe Lanzino

Asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis is a well-recognized risk factor for ischemic stroke, and its prevalence increases with age. In the late 1980s and in the 1990s, well-designed randomized trials established a definite advantage for carotid endarterectomy in reducing the risk of ipsilateral stroke when compared with medical therapy alone. However, medical treatment of cardiovascular disease has improved significantly over the past 2 decades, and this has, in turn, resulted in a decline of the stroke risk in patients with asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis treated medically. This improvement in medical therapy casts doubts on the effectiveness of large-scale invasive treatment in patients with asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis. Several studies have been conducted to identify possible subgroups of patients with asymptomatic stenosis who are at higher risk of stroke in order to maximize the potential benefits of invasive treatment. Ongoing large-scale trials comparing best current medical therapy to available invasive treatments, such as carotid endarterectomy and carotid artery stenting, are likely to shed some light on this debated topic in the near future. In this review, the authors summarize the current controversy surrounding the ideal management of asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis.

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Giuseppe Lanzino, Saul F. Morales-Valero, and William E. Krauss

Spinal cord hemangioblastomas occur as sporadic lesions or in the setting of Von Hippel-Lindau disease. In this intraoperative video we present a case of sporadic cervical cord hemangioblastoma and illustrate the main surgical steps to achieve safe and complete resection which include: identification and division of the feeding arteries; careful circumferential dissection of the tumor from the surrounding gliotic cord; identification, isolation and division of the main venous drainage and single piece removal of the tumor.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/I7DxqRrfTxc.

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Saul F. Morales-Valero, Jamie J. Van Gompel, Ioannis Loumiotis, and Giuseppe Lanzino

The surgical treatment of meningiomas located at the base of the anterior cranial fossa is often challenging, and the evolution of the surgical strategy to resect these tumors parallels the development of craniotomy, and neurosurgery in general, over the past century. Early successful operations to treat these tumors were pioneered by prominent figures such as Sir William Macewen and Francesco Durante. Following these early reports, Harvey Cushing made significant contributions, allowing a better understanding and treatment of meningiomas in general, but particularly those involving the anterior cranial base. Initially, large-sized unilateral or bilateral craniotomies were necessary to approach these deep-seated lesions. Technical advances such as the introduction of electrosurgery, the operating microscope, and refined microsurgical instruments allowed neurosurgeons to perform less invasive surgical procedures with better results. Today, a wide variety of surgical strategies, including endoscopic surgery and radiosurgery, are used to treat these tumors. In this review, the authors trace the evolution of craniotomy for anterior cranial fossa meningiomas.

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Saul F. Morales-Valero, Carlo Bortolotti, Carmelo Sturiale, and Giuseppe Lanzino

A long-held dogma in neurosurgery is that parenchymal arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are congenital. However, there is no strong evidence supporting this theory. An increasing number of documented cases of de novo formation of parenchymal AVMs cast doubt on their congenital nature and suggest that indeed the majority of these lesions may form after birth. Further evidence suggesting the postnatal development of parenchymal AVMs comes from the exceedingly rare diagnosis of these lesions in utero despite the widespread availability of high-resolution imaging modalities such as ultrasound and fetal MRI. The exact mechanism of AVM formation has yet to be elucidated, but most likely involves genetic susceptibility and environmental triggering factors. In this review, the authors report 2 cases of de novo AVM formation and analyze the evidence suggesting that they represent an acquired condition.

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Saul F. Morales-Valero, Elena Serchi, Matteo Zoli, Diego Mazzatenta, and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECT

The transoral approach is the gold standard for ventral decompression of the brainstem caused by craniovertebral junction (CVJ) pathology. This approach is often associated with significant morbidity, related to swallowing and respiratory complications. The endoscopic endonasal approach was introduced to reduce the rate of these complications. However, the exact role of this approach in the treatment of CVJ pathology is not well defined.

METHODS

A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify series of patients with pathology of the CVJ treated via the endoscopie endonasal approach. Data on patient characteristics, indications for treatment, complications, and outcome were obtained and analyzed.

RESULTS

Twelve studies involving 72 patients were included. The most common indications for treatment were rheumatoid pannus (38.9%) and basilar invagination (29.2%). Cerebrospinal fluid leak was found in 18% of cases intraoperatively and 4.2% of cases postoperatively. One case of meningitis complicated by sepsis and death represents the procedure-related mortality of 1.4%. Of the patients without preoperative swallowing impairment, 95% returned to oral feeding on the 3rd postoperative day. Ninety-three percent of patients experienced improvement in neurological symptoms after the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS

The endonasal endoscopie approach is effective for the treatment of neural compression caused by CVJ pathology. It offers advantages such as lower rates of postoperative dysphagia and respiratory complications when compared with the more traditional transoral approach. However, these 2 approaches should be seen as complementary rather than alternatives. Patient-related factors as well as the surgeon’s expertise must be considered when making treatment decisions.

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Giuseppe Lanzino, Saul F. Morales-Valero, William E. Krauss, Mario Campero, and W. Richard Marsh

Intramedullary ependymomas are surgically curable tumors. However, their surgical resection poses several challenges. In this intraoperative video we illustrate the main steps for the surgical resection of a cervical intramedullary ependymoma. These critical steps include: adequate exposure of the entire length of the tumor; use of the intraoperative ultrasound; identification of the posterior median sulcus and separation of the posterior columns; Identification of the plane between the spinal cord and the tumor; mobilization and debulking of the tumor and disconnection of the vascular supply (usually from small anterior spinal artery branches). Following these basic steps a complete resection can be safely achieved in many cases.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/QMYXC_F4O4U.

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Matthew J. Shepard, M. Harrison Snyder, Sauson Soldozy, Leonel L. Ampie, Saul F. Morales-Valero, and John A. Jane Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Early surgical intervention for patients with pituitary apoplexy (PA) is thought to improve visual outcomes and decrease mortality. However, some patients may have good clinical outcomes without surgery. The authors sought to compare the radiological and clinical outcomes of patients with PA who were managed conservatively versus those who underwent early surgery.

METHODS

Patients with symptomatic PA were identified. Radiological, endocrinological, and ophthalmological data were reviewed. Patients with progressive visual deterioration or ophthalmoplegia were candidates for early surgery (within 7 days). Patients without visual symptoms or whose symptoms improved on high-dose steroids were treated conservatively. Log-rank and univariate analysis compared clinical and radiological outcomes between those receiving early surgery and those who underwent intended conservative management.

RESULTS

Sixty-four patients with PA were identified: 47 (73.4%) underwent intended conservative management, while 17 (26.6%) had early surgery. Patients receiving early surgery had increased rates of impaired visual acuity (VA; 64.7% vs 27.7%, p = 0.009); visual field (VF) deficits (64.7% vs 19.2%, p = 0.002); and cranial neuropathies (58.8% vs 29.8%, p < 0.05) at presentation. Tumor volumes were greater in the early surgical cohort (15.1 ± 14.8 cm3 vs 4.5 ± 10.3 cm3, p < 0.001). The median clinical and radiological follow-up visits were longer in the early surgical cohort (70.0 and 64.4 months vs 26.0 and 24.7 months, respectively; p < 0.001). Among those with VA/VF deficits, visual outcomes were similar between both groups (p > 0.9). The median time to VA improvement (2.0 vs 3.0 months, p = 0.9; HR 0.9, 95% CI 0.3–3.5) and the median time to VF improvement (2.0 vs 1.5 months; HR 0.8, 95% CI 0.3–2.6, p = 0.8) were similar across both cohorts. Cranial neuropathy improvement was more common in conservatively managed patients (HR 4.8, 95% CI 1.5–15.4, p < 0.01). Conservative management failed in 7 patients (14.9%) and required surgery. PA volumes spontaneously regressed in 95.0% of patients (38/40) with successful conservative management, with a 6-month regression rate of 66.2%. Twenty-seven patients (19 in the conservative and 8 in the early surgical cohorts) responded to a prospectively administered Visual Function Questionnaire-25 (VFQ-25). VFQ-25 scores were similar across both cohorts (conservative 95.5 ± 3.8, surgery 93.2 ± 5.1, p = 0.3). Younger age, female sex, and patients with VF deficits or chiasmal compression were more likely to experience unsuccessful conservative management. Surgical outcomes were similar for patients receiving early versus delayed surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

These data suggest that a majority of patients with PA can be successfully managed without surgical intervention assuming close neurosurgical, radiological, and ophthalmological follow-up is available.