The role of indirect extracranial-intracranial bypass in the treatment of symptomatic intracranial atheroocclusive disease

J Neurosurg. 2009 May;110(5):896-904. doi: 10.3171/2008.9.JNS17658.


Object: The optimal treatment of medically refractory intracranial atheroocclusive disease remains unclear. The EC-IC Bypass Study Investigators found that patients with internal carotid and middle cerebral artery (ICA and MCA) occlusion received no benefit from direct superficial temporal artery to MCA bypass, and that patients with ICA occlusion and MCA stenosis may have actually fared worse after surgery, perhaps in part due to flow reversal in critical perforator-bearing segments. Although the results of recent investigations have suggested that direct bypass may be beneficial in a subgroup of patients with hemodynamic failure secondary to unilateral ICA occlusion, similar data do not exist for patients with hemodynamic failure from other intracranial stenoocclusive diseases. Indirect bypass via encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis offers a surgical alternative that may avoid rapid flow reversal while providing additional flow to at-risk, distal vascular territories.

Methods: Twelve patients with medically resistant hemodynamic failure from intracranial atheroocclusive disease underwent indirect vascular bypass. Eight patients had ICA occlusion and coexistent MCA stenosis, 1 patient had tandem ICA stenoses and MCA stenosis, 1 patient had tandem ICA and MCA occlusion, 1 patient had ICA and posterior cerebral artery occlusion and an ischemic hemisphere supplied via a proximal superficial temporal artery branch, and 1 patient had poor donor arteries and severe medical comorbidities that precluded the use of general anesthesia. Patient evaluation included clinical assessment of neurological status, CT scanning, MR imaging, digital subtraction angiography, and transcranial Doppler ultrasonography with CO(2) reactivity, or SPECT with acetazolamide challenge. Patient records were reviewed and patients were interviewed for outcome assessment, including transient ischemic attack (TIA), cerebral infarction, change in cerebral perfusion, graft patency, and functional level according to the modified Rankin scale. Kaplan-Meier cumulative failure curves for the primary end point of cerebral infarction were used to compare these patients to a control group of 81 patients derived from the literature who received medical management for severe symptomatic hemodynamic failure.

Results: Eleven patients underwent encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis and 1 patient received bur holes with dural and arachnoid incisions; the mean length of follow-up was 51.2 +/- 40.1 months. Five patients had decreased perfusion on follow-up despite graft patency, and 10 patients suffered new infarctions or TIAs during the follow-up period. Five patients (42%) suffered infarctions within 1 year of surgery. A meta-analysis of 4 studies of patients with symptomatic ICA occlusion and severe hemodynamic failure who underwent medical treatment revealed a new infarction rate of 30% in the first year after entry into the study. There was no significant difference between patients with severe hemodynamic failure who underwent surgery and those in the medically treated control group (log-rank test, p = 0.179).

Conclusions: The authors found that indirect bypass does not promote adequate pial collateral artery development and appears to be of limited utility in patients with symptomatic ICA or MCA stenoocclusive disease and secondary hemodynamic failure. Rates of postoperative TIAs or cerebral infarctions after indirect bypass in this patient population do not differ from previous reports in patients who received medical management only.

MeSH terms

  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Cerebral Revascularization / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler