Transvascular in vivo microscopy of the subarachnoid space

J Neurointerv Surg. 2022 May;14(5):neurintsurg-2021-018544. doi: 10.1136/neurintsurg-2021-018544. Epub 2022 Feb 3.


Background: The micro-architectonics of the subarachnoid space (SAS) remain partially understood and largely ignored, likely the result of the inability to image these structures in vivo. We explored transvascular imaging with high-frequency optical coherence tomography (HF-OCT) to interrogate the SAS.

Methods: In vivo HF-OCT was performed in 10 dogs in both the posterior and anterior cerebral circulations. The conduit vessels used were the basilar, anterior spinal, and middle and anterior cerebral arteries through which the perivascular SAS was imaged. The HF-OCT imaging probe was introduced via a microcatheter and images were acquired using a contrast injection (3.5 mL/s) for blood clearance. Segmentation and three-dimensional rendering of HF-OCT images were performed to study the different configurations and porosity of the subarachnoid trabeculae (SAT) as a function of location.

Results: Of 13 acquisitions, three were excluded due to suboptimal image quality. Analysis of 15 locations from seven animals was performed showing six distinct configurations of arachnoid structures in the posterior circulation and middle cerebral artery, ranging from minimal presence of SAT to dense networks and membranes. Different locations showed predilection for specific arachnoid morphologies. At the basilar bifurcation, a thick, fenestrated membrane had a unique morphology. SAT average thickness was 100 µm and did not vary significantly based on location. Similarly, the porosity of the SAT averaged 91% and showed low variability.

Conclusion: We have demonstrated the feasibility to image the structures of the SAS with transvascular HF-OCT. Future studies are planned to further map the SAT to increase our understanding of their function and possible impact on neurovascular pathologies.

Keywords: device; hydrocephalus; intervention; technology; vessel wall.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Intravital Microscopy
  • Microsurgery / methods
  • Subarachnoid Space* / anatomy & histology
  • Subarachnoid Space* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence* / methods