Background and aims. Cerebral bypasses are categorized according to function (flow augmentation or flow preservation) and to characteristics: direct, indirect or combined bypass, extra-to-intracranial or intra-to-intracranial bypass, and high-, moderate- or low-capacity bypass. We critically summarize the current state of evidence and grades of recommendation for cerebral bypass surgery.
Methods. The current indications for cerebral bypass are discussed depending on the function of the bypass (flow preservation or augmentation) and analyzed according to level of evidence criteria.
Results. Flow-preservation bypass plays an important role in managing complex intracranial aneurysms (level of evidence 4; grade of recommendation C). Flow-preservation bypass is currently only very rarely indicated in the treatment of cerebral tumors involving major cerebral arteries (level of evidence 5; grade of recommendation D). The trend has evolved in favor of partial resection and radiotherapy. To preserve the flow, the bypass is always a direct bypass.
Flow-augmentation bypass is currently recommended for Moyamoya patients with ischemic symptoms and compromised hemodynamics (level of evidence 4; grade of recommendation C) and patients with hemorrhagic onset (level of evidence 1B; grade of recommendation A). Flow-augmentation bypass is currently not recommended for patients with recently symptomatic carotid artery occlusion, even in the setting of compromised cerebral hemodynamics (level of evidence 1A; grade of recommendation A), but may be considered in patients with hemodynamic failure and recurrent medically refractory symptoms as a final resort (level of evidence 5; grade of recommendation D).
Conclusions. The results of recent randomized clinical trials narrow the indication for cerebral bypass in the setting of ischemic cerebrovascular disease. However, cerebral bypass is still very useful for managing complex intracranial aneurysms (not amenable to selective clipping or endovascular therapies) and is the only treatment option for managing symptomatic patients with Moyamoya vasculopathy and impaired brain hemodynamics.
Cerebral bypass Cerebral revascularization Evidence-based medicine Grades of recommendation Indications Level of evidence
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