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Anil K. Lalwani, Christopher F. Dowd and Van V. Halbach

✓ Dural arteriovenous fistulas of the transverse/sigmoid sinus usually cause pulse-synchronous bruit but may present catastrophically. Current systems for classifying these vascular malformations do not consider obstruction of venous outflow, which increases the risk of intracranial hemorrhage due to retrograde flow via cortical veins. The authors have developed a grading system based on the severity of venous restrictive disease determined by superselective angiography. In a retrospective analysis of 25 patients with dural arteriovenous fistulas of the transverse/sigmoid sinus treated between 1988 and 1990, the grade of venous restrictive disease reflected the clinical presentation. Visual symptoms and central nervous system hemorrhage were more common in patients with cortical venous drainage and more severe distal venous occlusion (Grade 3: 31% and 31%, respectively; Grade 4: 67% and 100%, respectively) than in patients with cortical venous drainage and mild-to-moderate venous restrictive disease (Grade 2: 13% and 0%, respectively) or those without venous outflow (Grade 1: 0% and 0%, respectively). These preliminary results suggest that this grading system may be useful for predicting the risk of catastrophic clinical presentation and for guiding therapeutic decision-making in patients with dural arteriovenous fistulas of the transverse/sigmoid sinus. A prospective study of a larger number of patients is needed to validate the predictive value of this new grading system.

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Christopher F. Dowd, Van V. Halbach and Randall T. Higashida

The field of interventional neuroradiology has experienced remarkable technological developments in microcatheters and embolic materials during the past two decades. The realm of meningioma therapy has benefited handsomely from the combination of these technical improvements and the knowledge of experienced practitioners in this field. Transarterial embolization has become a standard procedure in the preoperative management of meningiomas. The authors describe the indications, pretreatment evaluation, techniques, and outcomes when preoperative angiography and embolization are performed in the treatment of these tumors.

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Leslie D. Cahan, Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ In recent years, it has become evident that the most common form of arteriovenous malformation to involve the spinal cord in adults is a low-flow fistula with its nidus located on the dura in relation to the dorsal nerve root. This lesion, termed “radiculomeningeal fistula” (RMF), is drained by the intradural coronal venous system and most likely causes neurological deficits due to raised venous pressure within the spinal cord. The therapy that was formerly recommended was multilevel laminectomy with microsurgical stripping of the intradural vessels. However, that procedure focused on the draining veins rather than the nidus, and it has been replaced by direct treatment of the nidus or by disconnecting the nidus from the coronal venous system. This paper reports variants of RMF's that show a wider spectrum of the clinical and radiological findings than has been previously reported. Three patients presenting with extradural venous drainage, intraspinal hemorrhage, and/or sudden non-hemorrhagic neurological decline are reported. A more complete understanding of RMF facilitates the radiological and clinical evaluation of these patients and enables the surgeon to modify the therapy in a significant way.

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Perry P. Ng, Randall T. Higashida, Sean Cullen, Reza Malek, Van V. Halbach and Christopher F. Dowd

Interventional neuroradiology is a less invasive modality than open neurosurgery for the treatment of a wide range of neurovascular disorders. Refinements in technique and improvements in the design of microcatheters, guide wires, and embolic materials have yielded superior clinical outcomes and provided an impetus to treat more of these lesions endovascularly rather than surgically. Endovascular therapy is the standard of care for direct and indirect carotid artery cavernous sinus fistulas and may also be curative for dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) in other locations.

The authors provide review of the clinical features, pathophysiology, and management of intracranial AVFs focusing on contemporary endovascular treatment options.

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Grant B. Hieshima, Randall T. Higashida, Joseph Wapenski, Van V. Halbach, Leslie Cahan and John R. Bentson

✓ Interventional neurovascular techniques have advanced to a level where treatment of intracranial aneurysms by intravascular detachable balloon embolization therapy is now possible. A patient is presented who had a spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage from a large aneurysm of the distal basilar artery. The aneurysm arose at the bifurcation of the posterior cerebral arteries and measured 15 × 9 × 9 mm. With the patient fully awake, a detachable silicone balloon was passed into the basilar artery by a transfemoral arterial approach. Stenosis (> 60%) of the mid-section of the basilar artery, secondary to arterial vasospasm from the recent hemorrhage, was present. The stenosis was treated by transluminal angioplasty, after which the balloon was passed into the aneurysm and detached. A follow-up angiogram 3 months later demonstrated complete occlusion of the aneurysm and a widely patent basilar artery at the angioplasty site.

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Grant B. Hieshima, Randall T. Higashida, Joseph Wapenski, Van V. Halbach and John R. Bentson

✓ A patient who presented with multiple episodes of subarachnoid hemorrhage was diagnosed as having a large mid-basilar artery aneurysm that had no definable surgical neck. Balloon embolization was performed utilizing two detachable silicone balloons to occlude the mid-basilar artery and the aneurysm. The procedure was carried out with the patient fully awake and alert. One day after the procedure, the patient developed pontine and cerebellar ischemia which completely resolved after 5 days on heparin therapy. A follow-up angiogram performed immediately after the procedure and at 3 months demonstrated complete occlusion of the mid-basilar artery and the aneurysm. The patient was intact neurologically upon discharge 5 days after the embolization procedure and has since resumed his normal activities. Balloon embolization therapy may offer some advantages over surgical methods for the treatment of such therapeutically challenging aneurysms.

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Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach, Leslie D. Cahan, Grant B. Hieshima and Yoshifumi Konishi

✓ Treatment of complex and surgically difficult intracranial aneurysms of the posterior circulation is now being performed with intravascular detachable balloon embolization techniques. The procedure is carried out under local anesthesia from a transfemoral arterial approach, which allows continuous neurological monitoring. Under fluoroscopic guidance, the balloon is propelled by blood flow through the intracranial circulation and, in most cases, can be guided directly into the aneurysm, thus preserving the parent vessel. If an aneurysm neck is not present, test occlusion of the parent vessel is performed and, if tolerated, the balloon is detached.

Twenty-six aneurysms in 25 patients have been treated by this technique. The aneurysms have involved the distal vertebral artery (five cases), the mid-basilar artery (six cases), the distal basilar artery (11 cases), and the posterior cerebral artery (four cases). The aneurysms varied in size and included three small (< 12 mm), 15 large (12 to 25 mm), and eight giant (> 25 mm). Fifteen patients (60%) presented with hemorrhage and 10 patients (40%) with mass effect. In 17 cases (65%) direct balloon embolization of the aneurysm was achieved with preservation of the parent artery. In nine cases (35%), because of aneurysm location and size, occlusion of the parent vessel was performed. Complications from therapy included three cases of transient cerebral ischemia which resolved, three cases of stroke, and five deaths due to immediate or delayed aneurysm rupture. The follow-up period has ranged from 2 months to 43 months (mean 22.5 months).

In cases where posterior circulation aneurysms have been difficult to treat by conventional neurosurgical techniques, intravascular detachable balloon embolization may offer an alternative therapeutic option.

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Complex dural arteriovenous fistulas

Results of combined endovascular and neurosurgical treatment in 16 patients

Stanley L. Barnwell, Van V. Halbach, Randall T. Higashida, Grant Hieshima and Charles B. Wilson

✓ Of the 88 patients evaluated for symptomatic dural arteriovenous (AV) fistula over the past 8 years, 16 had large or complicated lesions that could not be treated with standard transvascular approaches or in which such treatment had been unsuccessful. Eleven fistulas were located in the transverse sinus, two in the cavernous sinus, two in the straight sinus, and one in the falx-tentorial region near the vein of Galen. The patients were treated with a combination of endovascular and neurosurgical techniques. Fourteen patients underwent preoperative transarterial embolization; this procedure closed the fistula in one patient. In the remaining 15 patients, surgery was performed to provide access to the fistula for embolization from either the venous or the arterial side, or for excision of the fistula. Transvenous embolization completely obliterated the fistula in seven of nine patients; the fistulas were embolized incompletely through the feeding arteries in two patients; and complete surgical resection of the lesion was accomplished in four patients. Complications related to venous occlusion occurred in two patients and one patient suffered communicating hydrocephalus that was effectively treated by shunting. There were no deaths. The results suggest that combined endovascular and neurosurgical techniques are a safe and effective means for the treatment of selected complex dural AV fistulas.

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Tomoaki Terada, Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Mitsuharu Tsuura, Norihiko Komai, Charles B. Wilson and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Dural sinus thrombosis has been hypothesized as a possible cause of dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVF's). The pathogenesis and evolution from thrombosis to actual development of an AVF are still unknown. To study dural fistula formation, a surgically induced venous hypertension model in rats was created by producing an arteriovenous shunt between the carotid artery and the external jugular vein. The external jugular vein beyond the anastomosis was ligated 2 to 3 months after surgery and angiography was performed to identify any new acquired AVF's.

Forty-six male Sprague-Dawley rats, each weighing approximately 300 gm, were used for this study. In Group I, 22 rats underwent a common carotid artery anastomosis to the external jugular vein, which is the largest draining vein from the transverse sinus via the posterior facial vein, followed by proximal external jugular vein ligation. In Group II, 13 rats underwent the same surgical procedure, followed by contralateral posterior facial vein occlusion. Group III served as the control group, in which 11 rats underwent only unilateral external jugular vein occlusion with or without contralateral posterior facial vein occlusion. The shunts in Groups I and II were ligated at 2 to 3 months following surgery, and transfemoral angiography was performed immediately before and after occlusion.

New acquired AVF's had developed in three rats (13.6%) in Group I, three rats (23.1%) in Group II, and no rats (0%) in Group III. One of these newly formed fistulas was located at the dural sinus, analogous to the human dural AVF. The other five were located in the subcutaneous tissue, including the face and neck. The dural AVF in the rat was present on follow-up angiography at 1 week after the bypass occlusion. It is concluded that chronic venous hypertension of 2 to 3 months' duration, without associated venous or sinus thrombosis, can induce new AVF's affecting the dural sinuses or the subcutaneous tissue.

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Adel M. Malek, Van V. Halbach, Stephen Holmes, Constantine C. Phatouros, Philip M. Meyers, Christopher F. Dowd and Randall T. Higashida