Dynamic nature of cavernous malformations: a prospective magnetic resonance imaging study with volumetric analysis

Richard E. Clatterbuck Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

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John L. Moriarity Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

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Ilhan Elmaci Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

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Roland R. Lee Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

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Steven N. Breiter Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

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Daniele Rigamonti Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

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Object. Although cavernous malformations (CMs) are not detected in angiographic studies, they have a characteristic appearance on magnetic resonance (MR) images. A number of reports published in the last decade have focused on the behavior of these lesions within the clinical environment. However, little has been published about the evolution of CMs over time, as observed in imaging studies. To understand imaging-documented changes in CMs over time, we analyzed MR images of 114 cavernous malformations in 68 patients who were followed prospectively.

Methods. For each CM the location, volume, and MR imaging signal characteristics were recorded. Volume data were available for 107 lesions from initial images. The mean volume of these 107 CMs was 2779 mm3. The lesions ranged in size from 0.5 to 46,533 mm3 (46.5 cm3). Volume data from a second set of images were available for 76 CMs (mean interval from first imaging session 26 months), and from a third set of images for 24 lesions (mean interval from second imaging session 18 months). Over the first follow-up interval, the mean volume change was −991 mm3 (a decrease of approximately 1 cm3) and over the second interval the mean volume change was −642 mm3. Although these mean volume changes appear modest, volume changes in single lesions during follow-up intervals were more dramatic, with decreases as large as 45,629 mm3 (45.6 cm3) and increases as large as 6,074 mm3 (6 cm3). Serial examinations of the MR imaging signal characteristics of these CMs demonstrate a trend for maturation of blood products from a subacute, to a mixed, and finally to a chronic appearance. Three lesions appeared de novo during the follow-up period.

Conclusions. On the basis of their analysis, the authors conclude that CMs exhibit a range of dynamic behaviors including enlargement, regression, and de novo formation, as well as progression through a series of characteristic MR imaging appearances.

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