Object: The authors describe their preliminary clinical experience with the use of endovascular stents in the treatment of traumatic vascular lesions of the skull base region. Because adequate distal exposure and direct surgical repair of these lesions are not often possible, conventional treatment has been deliberate arterial occlusion. The purpose of this report is to demonstrate the safety and efficacy as well as limitations of endovascular stent placement in the management of craniocervical arterial injuries.
Methods: Six patients with vascular injuries were treated using endovascular stents. There were two arteriovenous fistulas and two pseudoaneurysms of the distal extracranial internal carotid or vertebral arteries resulting from penetrating trauma, and two petrous carotid pseudoaneurysms associated with basal skull fractures. In one patient a porous stent placement procedure was undertaken as well as coil occlusion of an aneurysm, whereas in the remaining five patients covered stent grafts were used as definitive treatment. There were no procedural complications. One patient in whom there was extensive traumatic arterial dissection was found to have asymptomatic stent thrombosis when angiography was repeated 1 week postoperatively. This was the only patient whose associated injuries precluded routine antithrombotic or antiplatelet therapy. Follow-up examinations in the remaining five patients included standard angiography (four patients) or computerized tomography angiography (one patient), which were performed 3 to 6 months postoperatively, and clinical assessments ranging from 3 months to 1 year in duration (mean 9 months). In all five cases the vascular injury was successfully treated and the parent artery remained widely patent. No patient experienced aneurysm recurrence or hemorrhage, and there were no thromboembolic complications.
Conclusions: The authors' experience demonstrates that endovascular treatment of traumatic vascular lesions of the skull base region is both feasible and safe. The advantages of minimally invasive stent placement and parent artery preservation make this procedure for repair of neurovascular injuries a potentially important addition to existing methods.