Large experiences with the treatment of pediatric arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) remain relatively rare, with limited data on presentation, treatment, and long-term functional outcomes. Because of the expected long lifespan of children, caregivers are especially interested in outcome measures that assess quality of life. The authors’ intention was to describe the long-term functional outcomes of pediatric patients who undergo AVM surgery and to identify predictors of sustained neurological deficits.
The authors analyzed a 21-year retrospective cohort of pediatric patients with intracranial AVMs treated with microsurgery at two institutions. The primary outcome was a persistent neurological deficit at last follow-up. Secondary outcome measures included modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score and independent living.
Overall, 97 patients (mean age 11.1 ± 4.5 years; 56% female) were treated surgically for intracranial AVMs (mean follow-up 77.5 months). Sixty-four patients (66%) presented with hemorrhage, and 45 patients (46%) had neurological deficits at presentation. Radiologically, 39% of lesions were Spetzler-Martin grade II. Thirty-seven patients (38%) with persistent neurological deficits at last follow-up were compared with those without deficits; there were no differences in patient age, presenting Glasgow Coma Scale score, AVM size, surgical blood loss, or duration of follow-up. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that a focal neurological deficit on presentation, AVM size > 3 cm, and lesions in eloquent cortex were independent predictors of persistent neurological deficits at long-term follow-up. Overall, 92% of the children had an mRS score ≤ 2 on long-term follow-up.
Pediatric patients with AVMs treated with microsurgical resection have good functional and radiological outcomes. There is a high rate (38%) of persistent neurological deficits, which were independently predicted by preoperative deficits, AVMs > 3 cm, and lesions located in eloquent cortex. This information can be useful in counseling families on the likelihood of long-term neurological deficits after cerebral AVM surgery.