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Grading and surgical planning for intracranial arteriovenous malformations

Howard A. Riina and Y. Pierre Gobin

The treatment of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) has evolved over the last 40 years. These complex vascular lesions remain among the most difficult lesions to treat. Successful treatment of AVMs of the brain includes extensive preoperative planning, multimodality treatment options, and modern postoperative surgical care. The advent of new technologies, including interventional neuroradiology and radiosurgery, has expanded the range of malformations that can be treated effectively and has had a significant impact on those individuals who manifest this disease process. The purpose of this paper is to describe the current grading technique used by the authors and to explore the preoperative treatment and planning that leads to successful surgical obliteration of these lesions. Some description of preoperative interventions, including radiosurgery and interventional procedures will be mentioned; however, only in the context of how they impact on the surgical treatment of these lesions. In other articles in this edition of Neurosurgical Focus interventional procedures and radiosurgery as treatment adjuncts and as primary therapies will be discussed in greater detail.

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Complications of cerebral angiography in children younger than 3 years of age

Clinical article

Caitlin E. Hoffman, Alejandro Santillan, Lauren Rotman, Y. Pierre Gobin, and Mark M. Souweidane


The therapeutic potential for cerebral angiography (CA) in young children is expanding. However, its use in this patient population is limited by presumed higher complication rates among children. Therefore, to improve the accuracy of counseling of the parents/guardians of these patients and to identify modifiable risk factors, the authors evaluated complications after CA in young children.


The authors reviewed data for 309 consecutive cerebral angiograms obtained in 87 children younger than 36 months of age from 2004 to 2010 at a single institution. They analyzed demographics, diagnosis, angiographic findings, and complications.


The patient population comprised 40 boys and 47 girls; mean age was 14.36 months (range 1–36 months) and mean weight was 10.8 kg (range 3.7–21.0 kg). For 292 of the 309 procedures, intraarterial chemotherapy was administered; the remaining 17 procedures were for vascular malformations, stroke, tumor embolization, and intracranial hemorrhage. The rate of neurological complications was 0.0%. The rate of nonneurological complications was 2.9%: 7 cases of contrast allergy or bronchospasm, 1 groin hematoma (body weight 7 kg), and 1 transient femoral artery occlusion (body weight 10.8 kg). The rate of radiographic complications was 1.3%: 1 case of transient asymptomatic intraarterial dissection and 3 cases of asymptomatic vasospasm. Postprocedural MRI was performed for 33.3% of patients with no evidence of ischemia. There were no delayed complications. Mean follow-up time was 16.6 months. No association was found between complications and age, duration of anesthesia, number of vessels catheterized, size of the sheath, or diagnostic versus interventional procedures. Despite a trend toward a higher rate of complications for patients who weighed less than 15 kg, this finding was not significant (p = 0.35).


The rate of complications for CA in young children is comparable to rates reported for older children and lower than rates reported for adults. When appropriately indicated, CA should not be omitted from the therapeutic strategy of children younger than 36 months of age.

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Embolization of incidental cerebral aneurysms using the Guglielmi detachable coil system

Yuichi Murayama, Fernando Viñuela, Gary R. Duckwiler, Y. Pierre Gobin, and Guido Guglielmi

Guglielmi detachable coil (GDC) technology is a valuable therapeutic alternative to the surgical treatment of ruptured or incidental intracranial aneurysms. The authors describe their technical and clinical experience in the utilization of the GDC technique in patients who underwent endovascular occlusion for the treatment of incidentally found intracranial aneurysms.

One hundred fifteen patients with 120 incidentally found intracranial aneurysms underwent embolization using the GDC endovascular technique. Ninety-one patients were female and 24 were male. Patient age ranged from 13 to 80 years. In 64 patients the incidental aneurysms were discovered when unrelated nonneurological conditions indicated the need for angiography or magnetic resonance angiography (Group 1). Twenty patients who presented with incidental aneurysms that were discovered during treatment for an acutely ruptured aneurysm were treated in the acute phase of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) (Group 2). Sixteen patients with incidental aneurysms were treated during the chronic phase of SAH (Group 3). Group 4 included 15 patients who had incidental aneurysms associated with brain tumors or arteriovenous malformations.

Angiographic results showed complete or near complete occlusion in 109 aneurysms (91%) and incomplete occlusion in five aneurysms (4%). Unsuccessful GDC embolization was attempted in six aneurysms (5%). One hundred nine patients (94.8%) remained neurologically intact or unchanged from initial clinical status. Five patients (4.3%) deteriorated due to immediate procedural complications (overall immediate morbidity rate). All of these complications occurred in the first 50 patients treated earlier in this series. No clinical complications were observed in the last 65 patients. Follow-up cerebral angiograms were obtained in 77 patients with 79 aneurysms. The median clinical follow-up period was 16.3 months.

No recanalization was observed in the 52 completely occluded aneurysms. Of the 22 aneurysms with small neck remnants, eight (36%) showed further thrombosis, 7 (32%) remained anatomically unchanged, and seven (32%) showed recanalization due to compaction of the coils. In one patient, a partially embolized aneurysm ruptured 3 years postembolization. In Groups 1 and 3, the average length of hospitalization was 3.3 days.

The evolution of the GDC technology has proved to provide safe treatment of incidental aneurysms (a morbidity rate of 0% was achieved in the last 65 patients). The topography of the aneurysm and the clinical condition of the patient did not influence final anatomical or clinical outcomes. The GDC technology also confers a positive economical impact by decreasing hospital length of stay and by eliminating the need for postembolization intensive care unit care.

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Endovascular procedures for treating wide-necked aneurysms

David Wells-Roth, Alessandra Biondi, Vallabh Janardhan, Kyle Chapple, Y. Pierre Gobin, and Howard A. Riina

Wide-necked aneurysms remain difficult to treat by either open microneurosurgical or endovascular procedures. Recent advances in the latter technology, including intracranial stents and bioactive coils, now allow an endovascular treatment option for cases in which this was not previously available. In this report the authors describe the new developments in endovascular technologies that make the treatment of wide-necked aneurysms possible. This includes discussion of intracranial stents and bioactive coils designed to promote obliteration of the aneurysm lumen. In addition, methods for coil insertion in wide-necked aneurysms are described, including balloon remodeling and various stent placement procedures. Wide-necked aneurysms previously thought to be untreatable by endovascular means can now be obliterated, thanks to new devices specifically designed for intracranial use.

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Preoperative embolization in the treatment of choroid plexus papilloma in an infant

Case Report

Marc L. Otten, Howard A. Riina, Y. Pierre Gobin, and Mark M. Souweidane

✓ The authors report a case of preoperative embolization and resection of a choroid plexus papilloma of the lateral ventricle in a 4-month-old boy. These vascular tumors of the central nervous system present a significant intraoperative bleeding risk. Attempts at preoperative embolization to reduce the bleeding risk have rarely succeeded because of the small and tortuous vessels feeding these tumors in infants. The case presented here supports the feasibility of preoperative embolization as a therapeutic adjunct in infants.

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Treatment of a giant vertebrobasilar artery aneurysm using stent grafts

Case report

Edward Greenberg, Jeffrey M. Katz, Vallabh Janardhan, Howard Riina, and Y. Pierre Gobin

✓This 65-year-old man presented to the authors' institution reporting neck swelling. Stage IIIA Hodgkin disease was diagnosed, and a computed tomography scan of the neck revealed a vertebrobasilar artery aneurysm. His medical history was significant for subarachnoid hemorrhage and coma 2 years earlier. Subsequent digital subtraction angiography demonstrated a giant fusiform vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm with associated basilar artery (BA) fenestration. Endovascular treatment of the giant aneurysm was performed by left vertebral artery (VA) occlusion and placement of two Jo-stent coronary stent grafts from the right VA to the BA. The postprocedure course was uneventful. Follow-up angiography performed 1 week postoperatively demonstrated complete exclusion of the aneurysm. This unique case is described and a review of the relevant literature is presented.

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Endovascular treatment with Guglielmi detachable coils for basilar artery trunk aneurysms: clinical experience with 41 aneurysms in 39 patients

Ken Uda, Yuichi Murayama, Y. Pierre Gobin, Gary R. Duckwiler, and Fernando Viñuela

Object. The authors present a retrospective analysis of their clinical experience in the endovascular treatment of basilar artery (BA) trunk aneurysms with Guglielmi detachable coils (GDCs).

Methods. Between April 1990 and June 1999, 41 BA trunk aneurysms were treated in 39 patients by inserting GDCs. Twenty-seven patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage, six had intracranial mass effect, and in six patients the aneurysms were found incidentally. Eighteen lesions were BA trunk aneurysms, 13 were BA—superior cerebellar artery aneurysms, four were BA—anterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysms, and six were vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms. Thirty-five patients (89.7%) had excellent or good clinical outcomes; procedural morbidity and mortality rates were 2.6% each. Thirty-six aneurysms were selectively occluded while preserving the parent artery, and in five cases the parent artery was occluded along with the aneurysm. Immediate angiographic studies revealed complete or nearly complete occlusion in 35 aneurysms (85.4%). Follow-up angiograms were obtained in 29 patients with 31 aneurysms; the mean follow-up period was 17 months. No recanalization was observed in the eight completely occluded aneurysms. In 19 lesions with small neck remnants, seven (36.8%) had further thrombosis, three (15.8%) remained anatomically unchanged, and nine (47.3%) had recanalization caused by coil compaction. In one patient (2.6%) the aneurysm rebled 8 years after the initial embolization.

Conclusions. In this clinical series the authors show that the GDC placement procedure is valuable in the therapeutic management of BA trunk aneurysms. The endovascular catheterization of these lesions tends to be relatively simple, in contrast with more complex neurosurgical approaches. Endosaccular obliteration of these aneurysms also decreases the possibility of unwanted occlusion of perforating arteries to the brainstem.

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Embolization and Radiosurgery for AVMs

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Natural history of the neck remnant of a cerebral aneurysm treated with the Guglielmi detachable coil system

Motoharu Hayakawa, Yuichi Murayama, Gary R. Duckwiler, Y. Pierre Gobin, Guido Guglielmi, and Fernando Viñuela

Object. The long-term durability of Guglielmi detachable coil (GDC) embolization of cerebral aneurysms is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the anatomical evolution of neck remnants in aneurysms treated with GDCs.

Methods. Of 455 aneurysms treated with GDCs from 1990 to 1998 at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, 178 aneurysms (39%) had residual necks postembolization. Long-term follow-up angiograms were obtained in 73 of these aneurysms in 71 patients. The mean duration of angiographic follow up was 17.3 months. Twenty-four of the aneurysms were small with small necks, 24 were small with wide necks, 15 were large, and 10 were giant aneurysms.

In small aneurysms with small necks, postembolization angiography revealed 12 aneurysms (50%) with progressive thrombosis, eight (33%) unchanged, and four (17%) with recanalization. In small aneurysms with wide necks, six (25%) had progressive thrombosis, eight (33%) remained unchanged, and 10 (42%) had recanalization. In large aneurysms, two (13%) were unchanged and 13 (87%) had recanalization. Of the giant aneurysms only one (10%) remained unchanged and nine (90%) had recanalization. Overall, 18 aneurysms (25%) exhibited progressive thrombosis, 19 (26%) remained unchanged, and 36 (49%) displayed recanalization on follow-up angiography. During the last 2 years of the study, the recanalization rate decreased and a higher rate of progressive thrombosis was noted in aneurysms with small necks. These positive changes are related to important new technical developments.

Conclusions. Treatment with GDCs appears to be effective and the results permanent in most small aneurysms with small necks. However, there are important technical limitations in the current GDC technology that prevent recanalization in wide-necked or large or giant aneurysms.

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Embolization and Radiosurgery for AVMs