Seven bypasses simulation set: description and validity assessment of novel models for microneurosurgical training

J Neurosurg 138:732–739, 2023

Microsurgical training remains indispensable to master cerebrovascular bypass procedures, but simulation models for training that accurately replicate microanastomosis in narrow, deep-operating corridors are lacking. Seven simulation bypass scenarios were developed that included head models in various surgical positions with premade approaches, simulating the restrictions of the surgical corridors and hand positions for microvascular bypass training. This study describes these models and assesses their validity.

METHODS Simulation models were created using 3D printing of the skull with a designed craniotomy. Brain and external soft tissues were cast using a silicone molding technique from the clay-sculptured prototypes. The 7 simulation scenarios included: 1) temporal craniotomy for a superficial temporal artery (STA)–middle cerebral artery (MCA) bypass using the M4 branch of the MCA; 2) pterional craniotomy and transsylvian approach for STA-M2 bypass; 3) bifrontal craniotomy and interhemispheric approach for side-to-side bypass using the A3 branches of the anterior cerebral artery; 4) far lateral craniotomy and transcerebellomedullary approach for a posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA)–PICA bypass or 5) PICA reanastomosis; 6) orbitozygomatic craniotomy and transsylvian-subtemporal approach for a posterior cerebral artery bypass; and 7) extended retrosigmoid craniotomy and transcerebellopontine approach for an occipital artery–anterior inferior cerebellar artery bypass. Experienced neurosurgeons evaluated each model by practicing the aforementioned bypasses on the models. Face and content validities were assessed using the bypass participant survey.

RESULTS A workflow for model production was developed, and these models were used during microsurgical courses at 2 neurosurgical institutions. Each model is accompanied by a corresponding prototypical case and surgical video, creating a simulation scenario. Seven experienced cerebrovascular neurosurgeons practiced microvascular anastomoses on each of the models and completed surveys. They reported that actual anastomosis within a specific approach was well replicated by the models, and difficulty was comparable to that for real surgery, which confirms the face validity of the models. All experts stated that practice using these models may improve bypass technique, instrument handling, and surgical technique when applied to patients, confirming the content validity of the models.

CONCLUSIONS The 7 bypasses simulation set includes novel models that effectively simulate surgical scenarios of a bypass within distinct deep anatomical corridors, as well as hand and operator positions. These models use artificial materials, are reusable, and can be implemented for personal training and during microsurgical courses.

Risk of intracranial aneurysm recurrence after microsurgical clipping based on 3D digital subtraction angiography

J Neurosurg 138:717–723, 2023

Current knowledge of recurrence rates after intracranial aneurysm (IA) surgery relies on 2D digital subtraction angiography (DSA), which fails to detect more than 75% of small aneurysm remnants. Accordingly, the discrimination between recurrence and growth of a remnant remains challenging, and actual assessment of recurrence risk of clipped IAs could be inaccurate. The authors report, for the first time, 3D-DSA–based long-term durability and risk factor data of IA recurrence and remnant growth after microsurgical clipping.

METHODS Prospectively collected data for 305 patients, with a total of 329 clipped IAs that underwent baseline 3DDSA, were evaluated. The incidence of recurrent IA was described by Kaplan-Meier curves. Risk factors for IA recurrence were analyzed by multivariable Cox proportional hazards and logistic regression models.

RESULTS The overall observed proportion of IA recurrence after clipping was 2.7% (9 of 329 IAs) at a mean followup of 46 months (0.7% per year). While completely obliterated IAs did not recur during follow-up, incompletely clipped aneurysms (76 of 329) demonstrated remnant growth in 11.8% (3.4% per year). Young age and large initial IA size significantly increased the risk of IA recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS The findings support those in previous studies that hypothesized that completely clipped IAs have an extremely low risk of recurrence. Conversely, the results highlight the significant risk posed by incompletely clipped IAs. Young patients with initial large IAs and incomplete obliteration have an especially high risk for IA recurrence and therefore should be monitored more closely.

A system of anatomical triangles defining dissection routes to brainstem cavernous malformations

J Neurosurg 138:768–784, 2023

Anatomical triangles defined by intersecting neurovascular structures delineate surgical routes to pathological targets and guide neurosurgeons during dissection steps. Collections or systems of anatomical triangles have been integrated into skull base surgery to help surgeons navigate complex regions such as the cavernous sinus. The authors present a system of triangles specifically intended for resection of brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs). This system of triangles is complementary to the authors’ BSCM taxonomy that defines dissection routes to these lesions.

METHODS The anatomical triangle through which a BSCM was resected microsurgically was determined for the patients treated during a 23-year period who had both brain MRI and intraoperative photographs or videos available for review.

RESULTS Of 183 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 50 had midbrain lesions (27%), 102 had pontine lesions (56%), and 31 had medullary lesions (17%). The craniotomies used to resect these BSCMs included the extended retrosigmoid (66 [36.1%]), midline suboccipital (46 [25.1%]), far lateral (30 [16.4%]), pterional/orbitozygomatic (17 [9.3%]), torcular (8 [4.4%]), and lateral suboccipital (8 [4.4%]) approaches. The anatomical triangles through which the BSCMs were most frequently resected were the interlobular (37 [20.2%]), vallecular (32 [17.5%]), vagoaccessory (30 [16.4%]), supracerebellar-infratrochlear (16 [8.7%]), subtonsillar (14 [7.7%]), oculomotor-tentorial (11 [6.0%]), infragalenic (8 [4.4%]), and supracerebellar-supratrochlear (8 [4.4%]) triangles. New but infrequently used triangles included the vertebrobasilar junctional (1 [0.5%]), supratrigeminal (3 [1.6%]), and infratrigeminal (5 [2.7%]) triangles. Overall, 15 BSCM subtypes were exposed through 6 craniotomies, and the approach was redirected to the BSCM by one of the 14 triangles paired with the BSCM subtype.

CONCLUSIONS A system of BSCM triangles, including 9 newly defined triangles, was introduced to guide dissection to these lesions. The use of an anatomical triangle better defines the pathway taken through the craniotomy to the lesion and refines the conceptualization of surgical approaches. The triangle concept and the BSCM triangle system increase the precision of dissection through subarachnoid corridors, enhance microsurgical execution, and potentially improve patient outcomes.

Long-term functional independence after minimally invasive endoscopic intracerebral hemorrhage evacuation

J Neurosurg 138:154–164, 2023

Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is a devastating form of stroke with no proven treatment. However, minimally invasive endoscopic evacuation is a promising potential therapeutic option for ICH. Herein, the authors examine factors associated with long-term functional independence (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score ≤ 2) in patients with spontaneous ICH who underwent minimally invasive endoscopic evacuation.

METHODS Patients with spontaneous supratentorial ICH who had presented to a large urban healthcare system from December 2015 to October 2018 were triaged to a central hospital for minimally invasive endoscopic evacuation. Inclusion criteria for this study included age ≥ 18 years, hematoma volume ≥ 15 ml, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score ≥ 6, premorbid mRS score ≤ 3, and time from ictus ≤ 72 hours. Demographic, clinical, and radiographic factors previously shown to impact functional outcome in ICH were included in a retrospective univariate analysis with patients dichotomized into independent (mRS score ≤ 2) and dependent (mRS score ≥ 3) outcome groups, according to 6-month mRS scores. Factors that reached a threshold of p < 0.05 in a univariate analysis were included in a multivariate logistic regression.

RESULTS A total of 90 patients met the study inclusion criteria. The median preoperative hematoma volume was 41 (IQR 27–65) ml and the median postoperative volume was 1.2 (0.3–7.5) ml, resulting in a median evacuation percentage of 97% (85%–99%). The median hospital length of stay was 17 (IQR 9–25) days, and 8 (9%) patients died within 30 days of surgery. Twenty-four (27%) patients had attained functional independence by 6 months. Factors independently associated with long-term functional independence included lower NIHSS score at presentation (OR per point 0.78, 95% CI 0.67–0.91, p = 0.002), lack of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH; OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.05–0.77, p = 0.02), and shorter time to evacuation (OR per hour 0.95, 95% CI 0.91–0.99, p = 0.007). Specifically, patients who had undergone evacuation within 24 hours of ictus demonstrated an mRS score ≤ 2 rate of 36% and were associated with an increased likelihood of long-term independence (OR 17.7, 95% CI 1.90–164, p = 0.01) as compared to those who had undergone evacuation after 48 hours.

CONCLUSIONS In a single-center minimally invasive endoscopic ICH evacuation cohort, NIHSS score on presentation, lack of IVH, and shorter time to evacuation were independently associated with functional independence at 6 months. Factors associated with functional independence may help to better predict populations suitable for minimally invasive endoscopic evacuation and guide protocols for future clinical trials.

A quantitative model to differentiate nonaneurysmal perimesencephalic subarachnoid hemorrhage from aneurysmal etiology

J Neurosurg 138:165–172, 2023

OBJECTIVE Nonaneurysmal perimesencephalic subarachnoid hemorrhage (pmSAH) is considered to have a lower-risk pattern than other types of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). However, a minority of patients with pmSAH may harbor a causative posterior circulation aneurysm. To exclude this possibility, many institutions pursue exhaustive imaging. In this study the authors aimed to develop a novel predictive model based on initial noncontrast head CT (NCHCT) features to differentiate pmSAH from aneurysmal causes.

METHODS The authors retrospectively reviewed patients admitted to an academic center for treatment of a suspected aneurysmal SAH (aSAH) during the period from 2016 to 2021. Patients with a final diagnosis of pmSAH or posterior circulation aSAH were included. Using NCHCT, the thickness (continuous variable) and location of blood in basal cisterns and sylvian fissures (categorical variables) were compared between groups. A scoring system was created using features that were significantly different between groups. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was used to measure the accuracy of this model in predicting aneurysmal etiology. A separate patient cohort was used for external validation of this model.

RESULTS Of 420 SAH cases, 48 patients with pmSAH and 37 with posterior circulation aSAH were identified. Blood thickness measurements in the crural and ambient cisterns and interhemispheric and sylvian fissures and degree of extension into the sylvian fissure were all significantly different between groups (all p < 0.001). The authors developed a 10-point scoring model to predict aneurysmal causes with high accuracy (area under the curve [AUC] 0.99; 95% CI 0.98–1.00; OR per point increase 10; 95% CI 2.18–46.4). External validation resulted in persistently high accuracy (AUC 0.97; 95% CI 0.92–1.00) of this model.

CONCLUSIONS A risk stratification score using initial blood clot burden may accurately differentiate between aneurysmal and nonaneurysmal pmSAH. Larger prospective studies are encouraged to further validate this quantitative tool.

A taxonomy for brainstem cavernous malformations: subtypes of medullary lesions

J Neurosurg 138:128–146, 2023

Medullary cavernous malformations are the least common of the brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs), accounting for only 14% of lesions in the authors’ surgical experience. In this article, a novel taxonomy for these lesions is proposed based on clinical presentation and anatomical location.

METHODS The taxonomy system was applied to a large 2-surgeon experience over a 30-year period (1990–2019). Of 601 patients who underwent microsurgical resection of BSCMs, 551 were identified who had the clinical and radiological information needed for inclusion. These 551 patients were classified by lesion location: midbrain (151 [27%]), pons (323 [59%]), and medulla (77 [14%]). Medullary lesions were subtyped on the basis of their predominant surface presentation. Neurological outcomes were assessed according to the modified Rankin Scale (mRS), with an mRS score ≤ 2 defined as favorable.

RESULTS Five distinct subtypes were defined for the 77 medullary BSCMs: pyramidal (3 [3.9%]), olivary (35 [46%]), cuneate (24 [31%]), gracile (5 [6.5%]), and trigonal (10 [13%]). Pyramidal lesions are located in the anterior medulla and were associated with hemiparesis and hypoglossal nerve palsy. Olivary lesions are found in the anterolateral medulla and were associated with ataxia. Cuneate lesions are located in the posterolateral medulla and were associated with ipsilateral upper-extremity sensory deficits. Gracile lesions are located outside the fourth ventricle in the posteroinferior medulla and were associated with ipsilateral lower-extremity sensory deficits. Trigonal lesions in the ventricular floor were associated with nausea, vomiting, and diplopia. A single surgical approach was preferred (> 90% of cases) for each medullary subtype: the far lateral approach for pyramidal and olivary lesions, the suboccipital-telovelar approach for cuneate lesions, the suboccipital-transcisterna magna approach for gracile lesions, and the suboccipital-transventricular approach for trigonal lesions. Of these 77 patients for whom follow-up data were available (n = 73), 63 (86%) had favorable outcomes and 67 (92%) had unchanged or improved functional status.

CONCLUSIONS This study confirms that the constellation of neurological signs and symptoms associated with a hemorrhagic medullary BSCM subtype is useful for defining the BSCM clinically according to a neurologically recognizable syndrome at the bedside. The proposed taxonomical classifications may be used to guide the selection of surgical approaches, which may enhance the consistency of clinical communications and help improve patient outcomes.

A taxonomy for brainstem cavernous malformations: subtypes of pontine lesions. Part 1: basilar, peritrigeminal, and middle peduncular

J Neurosurg 137:1462–1476, 2022

Brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) are complex, difficult to access, and highly variable in size, shape, and position. The authors have proposed a novel taxonomy for pontine cavernous malformations (CMs) based upon clinical presentation (syndromes) and anatomical location (findings on MRI).

METHODS The proposed taxonomy was applied to a 30-year (1990–2019), 2-surgeon experience. Of 601 patients who underwent microsurgical resection of BSCMs, 551 with appropriate data were classified on the basis of BSCM location: midbrain (151 [27%]), pons (323 [59%]), and medulla (77 [14%]). Pontine lesions were then subtyped on the basis of their predominant surface presentation identified on preoperative MRI. Neurological outcomes were assessed according to the modified Rankin Scale, with a score ≤ 2 defined as favorable.

RESULTS The 323 pontine BSCMs were classified into 6 distinct subtypes: basilar (6 [1.9%]), peritrigeminal (53 [16.4%]), middle peduncular (MP) (100 [31.0%]), inferior peduncular (47 [14.6%]), rhomboid (80 [24.8%]), and supraolivary (37 [11.5%]). Part 1 of this 2-part series describes the taxonomic basis for the first 3 of these 6 subtypes of pontine CM. Basilar lesions are located in the anteromedial pons and associated with contralateral hemiparesis. Peritrigeminal lesions are located in the anterolateral pons and are associated with hemiparesis and sensory changes. Patients with MP lesions presented with mild anterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome with contralateral hemisensory loss, ipsilateral ataxia, and ipsilateral facial numbness without cranial neuropathies. A single surgical approach and strategy were preferred for each subtype: for basilar lesions, the pterional craniotomy and anterior transpetrous approach was preferred; for peritrigeminal lesions, extended retrosigmoid craniotomy and transcerebellopontine angle approach; and for MP lesions, extended retrosigmoid craniotomy and trans–middle cerebellar peduncle approach. Favorable outcomes were observed in 123 of 143 (86%) patients with follow-up data. There were no significant differences in outcomes between the 3 subtypes or any other subtypes.

CONCLUSIONS The neurological symptoms and key localizing signs associated with a hemorrhagic pontine subtype can help to define that subtype clinically. The proposed taxonomy for pontine CMs meaningfully guides surgical strategy and may improve patient outcomes.

Transradial versus transfemoral access for embolization of intracranial aneurysms with the Woven EndoBridge device: a propensity score–matched study

J Neurosurg 137:1064–1071, 2022

Transradial access (TRA) is commonly utilized in neurointerventional procedures. This study compared the technical and clinical outcomes of the use of TRA versus those of transfemoral access (TFA) for intracranial aneurysm embolization with the Woven EndoBridge (WEB) device.

METHODS This is a secondary analysis of the Worldwide WEB Consortium, which comprises multicenter data related to adult patients with intracranial aneurysms who were managed with the WEB device. These aneurysms were categorized into two groups: those who were treated with TRA or TFA. Patient and aneurysm characteristics and technical and clinical outcomes were compared between groups. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to match groups according to the following baseline characteristics: age, sex, subarachnoid hemorrhage, aneurysm location, bifurcation aneurysm, aneurysm with incorporated branch, neck width, aspect ratio, dome width, and elapsed time since the last follow-up imaging evaluation.

RESULTS This study included 682 intracranial aneurysms (median [interquartile range] age 61.3 [53.0–68.0] years), of which 561 were treated with TFA and 121 with TRA. PSM resulted in 65 matched pairs. After PSM, both groups had similar characteristics, angiographic and functional outcomes, and rates of retreatment, thromboembolic and hemorrhagic complications, and death. TFA was associated with longer procedure length (median 96.5 minutes vs 72.0 minutes, p = 0.006) and fluoroscopy time (28.2 minutes vs 24.8 minutes, p = 0.037) as compared with TRA. On the other hand, deployment issues were more common in those treated with TRA, but none resulted in permanent complications.

CONCLUSIONS TRA has comparable outcomes, with shorter procedure and fluoroscopy time, to TFA for aneurysm embolization with the WEB device.

Medication intake and hemorrhage risk in patients with familial cerebral cavernous malformations

J Neurosurg 137:1088–1094, 2022

The objective of this study was to analyze the impact of medication intake on hemorrhage risk in patients with familial cerebral cavernous malformation (FCCM).

METHODS The authors’ institutional database was screened for patients with FCCM who had been admitted to their department between 2003 and 2020. Patients with a complete magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data set, evidence of multiple CCMs, clinical baseline characteristics, and follow-up (FU) examination were included in the study. The authors assessed the influence of medication intake on first or recurrent intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) using univariate and multivariate logistic regression adjusted for age and sex. The longitudinal cumulative 5-year risk of hemorrhage was calculated by applying Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses adjusted for age and sex.

RESULTS Two hundred five patients with FCCMs were included in the study. Multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed ICH as a predictor for recurrent hemorrhage during the 5-year FU. The authors also noted a tendency toward a decreased association with ICH during FU in patients on statin medication (HR 0.22, 95% CI 0.03–1.68, p = 0.143), although the relationship was not statistically significant. No bleeding events were observed in patients on antithrombotic therapy. Kaplan-Meier analysis and log-rank test showed a tendency toward a low risk of ICH during FU in patients on antithrombotic therapy (p = 0.085), as well as those on statin therapy (p = 0.193). The cumulative 5-year risk of bleeding was 22.82% (95% CI 17.33%–29.38%) for the entire cohort, 31.41% (95% CI 23.26%–40.83%) for patients with a history of ICH, 26.54% (95% CI 11.13%–49.7%) for individuals on beta-blocker medication, 6.25% (95% CI 0.33%–32.29%) for patients on statin medication, and 0% (95% CI 0%–30.13%) for patients on antithrombotic medication.

CONCLUSIONS ICH at diagnosis was identified as a risk factor for recurrent hemorrhage. Although the relationships were not statistically significant, statin and antithrombotic medication tended to be associated with decreased bleeding events.

Stability of unruptured intracranial aneurysms in the anterior circulation: nomogram models for risk assessment

J Neurosurg 137:675–684, 2022

The probable stability of the lesion is critical in guiding treatment decisions in unruptured intracranial aneurysms (IAs). The authors aimed to develop multidimensional predictive models for the stability of unruptured IAs.

METHODS Patients with unruptured IAs in the anterior circulation were prospectively enrolled and regularly followed up. Clinical data were collected, IA morphological features were assessed, and adjacent hemodynamic features were quantified with patient-specific computational fluid dynamics modeling. Based on multivariate logistic regression analyses, nomograms incorporating these factors were developed in a primary cohort (patients enrolled between January 2017 and February 2018) to predict aneurysm rupture or growth within 2 years. The predictive accuracies of the nomograms were compared with the population, hypertension, age, size, earlier rupture, and site (PHASES) and earlier subarachnoid hemorrhage, location, age, population, size, and shape (ELAPSS) scores and validated in the validation cohort (patients enrolled between March and October 2018).

RESULTS Among 231 patients with 272 unruptured IAs in the primary cohort, hypertension, aneurysm location, irregular shape, size ratio, normalized wall shear stress average, and relative resident time were independently related to the 2-year stability of unruptured IAs. The nomogram including clinical, morphological, and hemodynamic features (C+M+H nomogram) had the highest predictive accuracy (c-statistic 0.94), followed by the nomogram including clinical and morphological features (C+M nomogram; c-statistic 0.89), PHASES score (c-statistic 0.68), and ELAPSS score (c-statistic 0.58). Similarly, the C+M+H nomogram had the highest predictive accuracy (c-statistic 0.94) in the validation cohort (85 patients with 97 unruptured IAs).

CONCLUSIONS Hemodynamics have predictive values for 2-year stability of unruptured IAs treated conservatively. Multidimensional nomograms have significantly higher predictive accuracies than conventional risk prediction scores.


Wall enhancement in unruptured posterior communicating aneurysms with oculomotor nerve palsy on magnetic resonance vessel wall imaging

J Neurosurg 137:668–674, 2022

Recent MR vessel wall imaging studies of unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs) have revealed that aneurysm wall enhancement (AWE) can be an indicator for aneurysm evolution; however, the degree of AWE among different types of evolving UIAs has yet to be clarified. The authors assessed the degree of AWE in unruptured posterior communicating artery (PcomA) aneurysms with oculomotor nerve palsy (ONP), which may be a subgroup of evolving UIAs with rapid enlargement and high rupture risk.

METHODS The degree of AWE was analyzed in 35 consecutive evolving PcomA aneurysms (19 with and 16 without ONP). UIAs were considered to be evolving when showing growth or ONP. A 3D T1-weighted fast spin echo sequence was obtained after contrast media injection, and the contrast ratio of the aneurysm wall against the pituitary stalk (CR stalk ) was calculated as the indicator of AWE. The CR stalk in evolving UIAs with ONP was compared with that in UIAs without ONP.

RESULTS The CR stalk was significantly higher in evolving UIAs with ONP than in those without ONP (0.85 vs 0.57; p =0.006). In multivariable analysis, the CR stalk remained a significant indicator for ONP presentation in evolving UIAs (OR 6.13, 95% CI 1.21–31.06).

CONCLUSIONS AWE was stronger in evolving PcomA aneurysms with ONP than in those without ONP, suggesting the potential utility of AWE for risk stratification in evolving UIAs. The degree of AWE can be a promising indicator of a rupture-prone UIA, which can be useful information for the decision-making process in the treatment of UIAs.

Endovascular therapy versus microsurgical clipping of unruptured wide-neck aneurysms: a prospective multicenter study with propensity score analysis

J Neurosurg 137:352–359, 2022

Numerous techniques have been developed to treat wide-neck aneurysms (WNAs), each with different safety and efficacy profiles. Few studies have compared endovascular therapy (EVT) with microsurgery (MS). The authors’ objective was to perform a prospective multicenter study of a WNA registry using rigorous outcome assessments and to compare EVT and MS using propensity score analysis (PSA).

METHODS Unruptured, saccular, not previously treated WNAs were included. WNA was defined as an aneurysm with a neck width ≥ 4 mm or a dome-to-neck ratio (DTNR) < 2. The primary outcome was modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score at 1 year after treatment (good outcome was defined as mRS score 0–2), as assessed by blinded research nurses and compared with PSA. Angiographic outcome was assessed using the Raymond scale with core laboratory review (adequate occlusion was defined as Raymond scale score 1–2).

RESULTS The analysis included 224 unruptured aneurysms in the EVT cohort (n = 140) and MS cohort (n = 84). There were no differences in baseline demographic characteristics, such as proportion of patients with good baseline mRS score (94.3% of the EVT cohort vs 94.0% of the MS cohort, p = 0.941). WNA inclusion criteria were similar between cohorts, with the most common being both neck width ≥ 4 mm and DTNR < 2 (50.7% of the EVT cohort vs 50.0% of the MS cohort, p = 0.228). More paraclinoid (32.1% vs 9.5%) and basilar tip (7.1% vs 3.6%) aneurysms were treated with EVT, whereas more middle cerebral artery (13.6% vs 42.9%) and pericallosal (1.4% vs 4.8%) aneurysms were treated with MS (p < 0.001). EVT aneurysms were slightly larger (p = 0.040), and MS aneurysms had a slightly lower mean DTNR (1.4 for the EVT cohort vs 1.3 for the MS cohort, p = 0.010). Within the EVT cohort, 9.3% of patients underwent stand-alone coiling, 17.1% balloon-assisted coiling, 34.3% stent-assisted coiling, 37.1% flow diversion, and 2.1% PulseRider-assisted coiling. Neurological morbidity secondary to a procedural complication was more common in the MS cohort (10.3% vs 1.4%, p = 0.003). One-year mRS scores were assessed for 218 patients (97.3%), and no significantly increased risk of poor clinical outcome was found for the MS cohort (OR 2.17, 95% CI 0.84–5.60, p = 0.110). In an unadjusted direct comparison, more patients in the EVT cohort achieved a good clinical outcome at 1 year (93.4% vs 84.1%, p = 0.048). Final adequate angiographic outcome was superior in the MS cohort (97.6% of the MS cohort vs 86.5% of the EVT cohort, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS Although the treatments for unruptured WNA had similar clinical outcomes according to PSA, there were fewer complications and superior clinical outcome in the EVT cohort and superior angiographic outcomes in the MS cohort according to the unadjusted analysis. These results may be considered when selecting treatment modalities for patients with unruptured WNAs.

Neurological event prediction for patients with symptomatic cerebral cavernous malformation: the BLED 2 score

J Neurosurg 137:344–351, 2022

Retrospective patient cohort studies have identified risk factors associated with recurrent focal neurological events in patients with symptomatic cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs). Using a prospectively maintained database of patients with CCMs, this study identified key risk factors for recurrent neurological events in patients with symptomatic CCM. A simple scoring system and risk stratification calculator was then created to predict future neurological events in patients with symptomatic CCMs.

METHODS This was a dual-center, prospectively acquired, retrospectively analyzed cohort study. Adult patients who presented with symptomatic CCMs causing focal neurological deficits or seizures were uniformly treated and clinically followed from the time of diagnosis onward. Baseline variables included age, sex, history of intracerebral hemorrhage, lesion multiplicity, location, eloquence, size, number of past neurological events, and duration since last event. Stepwise multivariable Cox regression was used to derive independent predictors of recurrent neurological events, and predictive accuracy was assessed. A scoring system based on the relative magnitude of each risk factor was devised, and KaplanMeier curve analysis was used to compare event-free survival among patients with different score values. Subsequently, 1-, 2-, and 5-year neurological event rates were calculated for every score value on the basis of the final model.

RESULTS In total, 126 (47%) of 270 patients met the inclusion criteria. During the mean (interquartile range) follow-up of 54.4 (12–66) months, 55 patients (44%) experienced recurrent neurological events. Multivariable analysis yielded 4 risk factors: bleeding at presentation (HR 1.92, p = 0.048), large size ≥ 12 mm (HR 2.06, p = 0.016), eloquent location (HR 3.01, p = 0.013), and duration ≤ 1 year since last event (HR 9.28, p = 0.002). The model achieved an optimism-corrected c-statistic of 0.7209. All factors were assigned 1 point, except duration from last event which was assigned 2 points. The acronym BLED 2 summarizes the scoring system. The 1-, 2-, and 5-year risks of a recurrent neurological event ranged from 0.6%, 1.2%, and 2.3%, respectively, for patients with a BLED 2 score of 0, to 48%, 74%, and 93%, respectively, for patients with a BLED 2 score of 5.

CONCLUSIONS The BLED 2 risk score predicts prospective neurological events in symptomatic CCM patients.

Computational fluid dynamic analysis of the initiation of cerebral aneurysms

J Neurosurg 137:335–343, 2022

Relationships between aneurysm initiation and hemodynamic factors remain unclear since de novo aneurysms are rarely observed. Most previous computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies have used artificially reproduced vessel geometries before aneurysm initiation for analysis. In this study, the authors investigated the hemodynamic factors related to aneurysm initiation by using angiographic images in patients with cerebral aneurysms taken before and after an aneurysm formation.

METHODS The authors identified 10 cases of de novo aneurysms in patients who underwent follow-up examinations for existing cerebral aneurysms located at a different vessel. The authors then reconstructed the vessel geometry from the images that were taken before aneurysm initiation. In addition, 34 arterial locations without aneurysms were selected as control cases. Hemodynamic parameters acting on the arterial walls were calculated by CFD analysis.

RESULTS In all de novo cases, the aneurysmal initiation area corresponded to the highest wall shear stress divergence (WSSD point), which indicated that there was a strong tensile force on the arterial wall at the initiation area. The other previously reported parameters did not show such correlations. Additionally, the pressure loss coefficient (PLc) was statistically significantly higher in the de novo cases (p < 0.01). The blood flow impact on the bifurcation apex, or the secondary flow accompanied by vortices, resulted in high tensile forces and high total pressure loss acting on the vessel wall.

CONCLUSIONS Aneurysm initiation may be more likely in an area where both tensile forces acting on the vessel wall and total pressure loss are large.

Saccular aneurysms in the post–Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial era

J Neurosurg 137:148–155, 2022

The Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial (BRAT) was a single-center trial that compared endovascular coiling to microsurgical clipping in patients treated for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH). However, because patients in the BRAT were treated more than 15 years ago, and because there have been advances since then—particularly in endovascular techniques—the relevance of the BRAT today remains controversial. Some hypothesize that these technical advances may reduce retreatment rates for endovascular intervention. In this study, the authors analyzed data for the post-BRAT (PBRAT) era to compare microsurgical clipping with endovascular embolization (coiling and flow diverters) in the two time periods and to examine how the results of the original BRAT have influenced the practice of neurosurgeons at the study institution.

METHODS In this retrospective cohort study, the authors evaluated patients with saccular aSAHs who were treated at a single quaternary center from August 1, 2007, to July 31, 2019. The saccular aSAH diagnoses were confirmed by cerebrovascular experts. Patients were separated into two cohorts for comparison on the basis of having undergone microsurgery or endovascular intervention. The primary outcome analyzed for comparison was poor neurological outcome, defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score > 2. The secondary outcomes that were compared included retreatment rates for both therapies.

RESULTS Of the 1014 patients with aSAH during the study period, 798 (79%) were confirmed to have saccular aneurysms. Neurological outcomes at ≥ 1-year follow-up did not differ between patients treated with microsurgery (n = 451) and those who received endovascular (n = 347) treatment (p = 0.51). The number of retreatments was significantly higher among patients treated endovascularly (32/347, 9%) than among patients treated microsurgically (6/451, 1%) (p < 0.001). The retreatment rate after endovascular treatment was lower in the PBRAT era (9%) than in the BRAT (18%).

CONCLUSIONS Similar to results from the BRAT, results from the PBRAT era showed equivalent neurological outcomes and increased rates of retreatment among patients undergoing endovascular embolization compared with those undergoing microsurgery. However, the rate of retreatment after endovascular intervention was much lower in the PBRAT era than in the BRAT.

A taxonomy for brainstem cavernous malformations: subtypes of midbrain lesions

J Neurosurg 136:1667–1686, 2022

Anatomical taxonomy is a practical tool that has successfully guided clinical decision-making for patients with brain arteriovenous malformations. Brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) are similarly complex lesions that are difficult to access and highly variable in size, shape, and position. The authors propose a novel taxonomy for midbrain cavernous malformations based on clinical presentation (syndromes) and anatomical location (identified with MRI).

METHODS The taxonomy system was developed and applied to an extensive 2-surgeon experience over a 30-year period (1990–2019). Of 551 patients with appropriate data who underwent microsurgical resection of BSCMs, 151 (27.4%) had midbrain lesions. These lesions were further subtyped on the basis of predominant surface presentation identified on preoperative MRI. Five distinct subtypes of midbrain BSCMs were defined: interpeduncular (7 lesions [4.6%]), peduncular (37 [24.5%]), tegmental (73 [48.3%]), quadrigeminal (27 [17.9%]), and periaqueductal (7 [4.6%]). Neurological outcomes were assessed using modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores. A postoperative score ≤ 2 was defined as a favorable outcome; a score > 2 was defined as a poor outcome. Clinical and surgical characteristics and neurological outcomes were compared among subtypes.

RESULTS Each midbrain BSCM subtype was associated with a recognizable constellation of neurological symptoms. Patients with interpeduncular lesions commonly presented with ipsilateral oculomotor nerve palsy and contralateral cerebellar ataxia or dyscoordination. Peduncular lesions were associated with contralateral hemiparesis and ipsilateral oculomotor nerve palsy. Patients with tegmental lesions were the most likely to present with contralateral sensory deficits, whereas those with quadrigeminal lesions commonly presented with the features of Parinaud syndrome. Periaqueductal lesions were the most likely to cause obstructive hydrocephalus. A single surgical approach was preferred (> 90% of cases) for each midbrain subtype: interpeduncular (transsylvian-interpeduncular approach [7/7 lesions]), peduncular (transsylvian-transpeduncular [24/37]), tegmental (lateral supracerebellar-infratentorial [73/73]), quadrigeminal (midline or paramedian supracerebellar-infratentorial [27/27]), and periaqueductal (transcallosal-transchoroidal fissure [6/7]). Favorable outcomes (mRS score ≤ 2) were observed in most patients (110/136 [80.9%]) with follow-up data. No significant differences in outcomes were observed between subtypes (p = 0.92).

CONCLUSIONS The study confirmed the authors’ hypothesis that taxonomy for midbrain BSCMs can meaningfully guide the selection of surgical approach and resection strategy. The proposed taxonomy can increase diagnostic acumen at the patient bedside, help identify optimal surgical approaches, enhance the consistency of clinical communications and publications, and improve patient outcomes.



Anatomo‑functional evaluation for management and surgical treatment of insular cavernous malformation: a case series

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:1675–1684

Insular cavernous malformations (iCMs) are very rare vascular lesions. Their surgical management is chal- lenging, due to their complex functional and vascular relationship. The continuous improvement of intra-operative tools and neuroimaging techniques has progressively enhanced the safety of iCM surgery. Nevertheless, the best surgical approach remains controversial.

Objective To analyze the potential role of an anatomo-functional classification to guide the iCMs’ management.

Methods The study included patients affected by iCMs and referred to the Senior Author (FA). All cases were divided in 2 groups, according to a mainly pial growth pattern (exophytic group) or a subcortical one (endophytic group). Endophytic iCM was further subdivided in 3 subgroups, based on the insular gyri involved. According to this classification, each patient underwent a specific additional neuroimaging investigation and surgical evaluation.

Results A total of 24 patients were included. In the surgical group, trans-sylvian (TS) approach was used in 6 patients with exophytic or Zone I endophytic iCMs. The transcortical (TC) approach with awake monitoring was used in 6 cases of Zone II endophytic vascular lesions. Both TS and trans-intraparietal sulcal (TIS) approach were used for 3 cases of Zone III endophytic iCM. At follow-up, 3 patients were fully recovered from a transient speech impairment while a permanent morbidity was observed in one case.

Conclusions ICMs represent a single entity with peculiar clinical and surgical aspects. The proposed iCM classification focuses on anatomical and functional concerns, aiming to suggest the best pre-operative work-up and the surgical evaluation.

External validation of the Lawton brainstem cavernous malformation grading system in a cohort of 277 microsurgical patients

J Neurosurg 136:1231–1239, 2022

The brainstem cavernous malformation (BSCM) grading system predicts neurological outcomes associated with microsurgical resection and assists neurosurgeons in selecting patients for treatment. The predictive accuracy of the BSCM grading system should be validated in a large cohort from high-volume centers to generalize its use.

METHODS An external validation cohort comprised patients with a BSCM resected by the senior author (M.T.L.) since the publication of the BSCM grading system and those resected by another neurosurgeon (R.F.S.) over a 16-year period. Size, crossing the axial midpoint, the presence of a developmental venous anomaly, patient age, and timing of last hemorrhage were used to assign BSCM grades from 0 to VII. Poor neurological outcomes were recorded as modified Rankin Scale scores > 2 at last follow-up examination.

RESULTS A total of 277 patients were included in the study. The average BSCM grade was 3.9, and the majority of BSCMs (181 patients, 65%) were intermediate grade (grades III–V). Outcomes were predicted by BSCM grade, with good outcomes observed in 47 of 54 patients (87%) with low-grade BSCMs, in 135 of 181 patients (75%) with intermediate-grade BSCMs, and in 21 of 42 patients (50%) with high-grade BSCMs. Conversely, proportions of patients with neurological deterioration increased with increasing BSCM grade, with worsening observed in 2 of 54 patients (4%) with low-grade BSCMs, in 29 of 181 patients (16%) with intermediate-grade BSCMs, and in 17 of 42 patients (40%) with high-grade BSCMs. In the chi-square analysis, high-grade BSCMs were associated with increased odds of neurological worsening compared to low- and intermediate-grade BSCMs (OR 5.0, 95% CI 2.4–10.4; p < 0.001). The receiver operating characteristic analysis demonstrated acceptable discrimination for predicting unfavorable functional outcomes (modified Rankin Scale score > 2) with an area under the curve of 0.74 (95% CI 0.68–0.80; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS This study validates the BSCM grading system in a large cohort of patients from two high-volume surgeons. BSCM grade predicted neurological outcomes with accuracy comparable to that of other grading systems in widespread use. The BSCM grading system establishes categories of low-, intermediate-, and high-grade BSCMs and a boundary or cutoff for surgery at BSCM grade V. BSCM grading guides the analysis of a particular patient’s condition, but treatment recommendations must be individualized, and neurosurgeons must calibrate BSCM grading to their own outcome results, unique abilities, and practices.

Surgical treatment of brainstem cavernous malformations: an international Delphi consensus

J Neurosurg 136:1220–1230, 2022

Indication for surgery in brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) is based on many case series, few comparative studies, and no randomized controlled trials. The objective of this study was to seek consensus about surgical management aspects of BSCM.

METHODS A total of 29 experts were invited to participate in a multistep Delphi consensus process on the surgical treatment of BSCM.

RESULTS Twenty-two (76%) of 29 experts participated in the consensus. Qualitative analysis (content analysis) of an initial open-ended question survey resulted in 99 statements regarding surgical treatment of BSCM. By using a multistep survey with 100% participation in each round, consensus was reached on 52 (53%) of 99 statements. These were grouped into 4 categories: 1) definitions and reporting standards (7/14, 50%); 2) general and patient-related aspects (11/16, 69%); 3) anatomical-, timing of surgery–, and BSCM-related aspects (22/37, 59%); and 4) clinical situation–based decision-making (12/32, 38%). Among other things, a consensus was reached for surgical timing, handling of associated developmental venous anomalies, handling of postoperative BSCM remnants, assessment of specific anatomical BSCM localizations, and treatment decisions in typical clinical BSCM scenarios.

CONCLUSIONS A summary of typical clinical scenarios and a catalog of various BSCM- and patient-related aspects that influence the surgical treatment decision have been defined, rated, and interpreted.


The added value of cerebrospinal fluid analysis in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage after negative noncontrast CT

J Neurosurg 136:1024–1028, 2022

In patients presenting within 6 hours after signs and symptoms of suspected subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), CSF examination is judged to be no longer necessary if a noncontrast CT (NCCT) scan rules out SAH. In this study, the authors evaluated the performance of NCCT to rule out SAH in patients with positive CSF findings.

METHODS Between January 2006 and April 2018, 1657 patients were admitted with a nontraumatic SAH. Of these patients, 1546 had positive SAH findings on the initial NCCT and 111 patients had an NCCT scan that was reported as negative in the acute setting, but with positive CSF examination for subarachnoid blood. Demographic data, World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies grade, and SAH time points (ictus, time of NCCT, and time of lumbar puncture) were collected. All 111 NCCT scans were reevaluated by an experienced neuroradiologist.

RESULTS Of the 111 patients with positive CSF findings, SAH was initially missed on NCCT in 25 patients (23%). Reevaluation of 21 patients presenting within 6 hours of symptom onset confirmed NCCT negative findings in 12 (5 aneurysms), an aneurysmal SAH (aSAH) pattern in 8 (7 aneurysms), and a perimesencephalic pattern in 1 patient. Reevaluation of 90 patients presenting after 6 hours confirmed negative NCCT findings in 74 patients (37 aneurysms), aSAH pattern in 10 (4 aneurysms), and a perimesencephalic pattern in 6 (2 aneurysms).

CONCLUSIONS CSF examination is still mandatory to rule out SAH as NCCT can fail to show blood, even within 6 hours after symptom onset. In addition, the diagnosis SAH was frequently missed during initial reporting.

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