Improvement of cerebrovascular reserve capacity by EC-IC arterial bypass surgery in patients with ICA occlusion and hemodynamic cerebral ischemia

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery and Nuclear Medicine, Ludwig Maximilians University, Klinikum Grosshadern, Munich; and Department of Neurology, Humboldt University, Universitätsklinikum Charité, Berlin, Germany
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✓ Since the negative results of the international Bypass Study, extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) bypass surgery is infrequently employed in the treatment of patients with cerebral ischemia. Newly acquired evidence concerning the pathophysiology of cerebral ischemia, however, has facilitated the identification of a small subgroup of patients with “hemodynamic” cerebral ischemia. Characteristically, these patients demonstrate severely impaired cerebrovascular reserve capacity due to occlusive disease and insufficient collateral blood supply.

Over an 8-year period, 28 patients were defined by clinical and laboratory criteria as suffering from hemodynamic cerebral ischemia. All patients had recurring episodes of focal cerebral ischemia due to unilateral internal carotid artery occlusion. Computerized tomography (CT) scans either were normal or showed evidence of border zone infarction. The cerebrovascular reserve capacity was studied using 133Xe single-photon emission CT and acetazolamide challenge and was found to be significantly impaired in all patients. Based on these criteria, superficial temporal artery-middle cerebral artery anastomosis was performed to augment collateral flow to the ischemic hemispheres. Two patients died from myocardial infarction, one 4 days and the other 2 months postoperatively. One patient died from massive brain infarction and another suffered a postoperative stroke with incomplete recovery, resulting in a major morbidity and mortality rate of 14%. Minor morbidity included one patient with a subdural hematoma who subsequently recovered completely. The postoperative course was uneventful in 23 patients (82%). Over a mean follow-up period of almost 3 years, no patient had another episode of brain ischemia. Bypass patency was confirmed by postoperative angiography in 26 patients. Follow-up studies of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrovascular reserve capacity showed significant improvement of the latter while the resting CBF was essentially unchanged. In view of these findings, the authors conclude that EC-IC bypass surgery constitutes appropriate therapy for a subgroup of patients with recurrent focal cerebral ischemia, defined using the strict selection criteria employed in this study.

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