OBJECTIVE: Stereotactic radiosurgery has been used for patients with high-risk cavernous malformations of the brain. We performed radiosurgery for patients with symptomatic, imaging-confirmed hemorrhages for which resection was believed to be associated with high risk. This study examines the long-term hemorrhage rate after radiosurgery. METHODS: We reviewed data obtained before and after gamma knife radiosurgery on 82 patients treated between 1987 and 2000. Most patients had multiple hemorrhages from brainstem or diencephalic cavernous malformations. Follow-up data were examined to identify hemorrhages, and an overall hemorrhage rate was calculated. RESULTS: Observation before treatment averaged 4.33 years (range, 0.17-18 yr) for a total of 354 patient-years. During this period, 202 hemorrhages were observed, for an annual hemorrhage rate of 33.9%, excluding the first hemorrhage. Temporal clustering of hemorrhages was not significant. After radiosurgery, patient follow-up averaged 5 years (range, 0.42-12.08 yr), for a total of 401 patient-years. During this period, 19 hemorrhages were identified, 17 in the first 2 years posttreatment and 2 after 2 years. The annual hemorrhage rate was 12.3% per year for the first 2 years after radiosurgery, followed by 0.76% per year from Years 2 to 12. Eleven patients had new neurological symptoms without hemorrhage after radiosurgery (13.4%). The symptoms were minor in six of these patients and temporary in five. CONCLUSION: Radiosurgery confers a reduction in the risk of hemorrhage for high-risk cavernous malformations. Risk reduction, although in evidence during initial follow-up, is most pronounced after 2 years. Given the difficulty of identifying high-risk patients, treatment after one major hemorrhage should be considered in selected younger patients. Such a strategy warrants further investigation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology