Journal of Neurosurgery November 2014

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Gamma Knife surgery for incidental cerebral arteriovenous malformations

Thirty-one patients, each with an incidentally diagnosed unruptured cerebral arteriovenous malformation, underwent Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKS) between 1989 and 2009. The nidus volumes ranged from 0.3 to 11.1 cm(3) (median 3.2 cm(3)). A margin dose between 15 and 26 gray (Gy) (median 20 Gy) was used to treat the AVMs. Four patients underwent repeat GKS for still-patent AVM residuals after the initial GKS procedure. Clinical follow-up ranged from 24 to 196 months, with a mean of 78 months (median 51 months) after the initial GKS.

19 patients (61.3%) had a total AVM obliteration on angiography. In 7 patients (22.6%), no flow voids were observed on MRI but angiographic confirmation was not available. In 5 patients (16.1%), the AVMs remained patent. A small nidus volume was significantly associated with increased AVM obliteration rate. Thirteen patients (41.9%) developed radiation-induced imaging changes: 11 were asymptomatic (35.5%), 1 had only headache (3.2%), and 1 developed seizure and neurological deficits (3.2%). Two patients each had 1 hemorrhage during the latency period (116.5 risk years), yielding an annual hemorrhage rate of 1.7% before AVM obliteration.

The decision to treat asymptomatic AVMs, and if so, which treatment approach to use, remain the subject of debate. GKS as a minimally invasive procedure appears to achieve a reasonable outcome with low procedure-related morbidity. In those patients with incidental AVMs, the benefits as well as the risks of radiosurgical intervention will only be fully defined with long-term follow-up 1).

1) Yen CP, Ding D, Cheng CH, Starke RM, Shaffrey M, Sheehan J. Gamma Knife surgery for incidental cerebral arteriovenous malformations. J Neurosurg. 2014 Aug 22:1-7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25148009.

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