Studies of resection of brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in the elderly population are scarce. This study examined factors influencing patient selection and surgical outcome among elderly patients.
Patients 65 years of age and older who underwent resection of an unruptured or ruptured brain AVM treated by two surgeons at two centers were identified. Patient demographic characteristics, AVM characteristics, clinical presentation, and outcomes measured using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) were analyzed. For subgroup analyses, patients were dichotomized into two age groups (group 1, 65–69 years old; group 2, ≥ 70 years old).
Overall, 112 patients were included in this study (group 1, n = 61; group 2, n = 51). Most of the patients presented with hemorrhage (71%), a small nidus (< 3 cm, 79%), and a low Spetzler-Martin (SM) grade (grade I or II, 63%) and were favorable surgical candidates according to the supplemented SM grade (supplemented SM grade < 7, 79%). A smaller AVM nidus was statistically significantly more likely to be present in patients with infratentorial AVMs (p = 0.006) and with a compact AVM nidus structure (p = 0.02). A larger AVM nidus was more likely to be treated with preoperative embolization (p < 0.001). Overall outcome was favorable (mRS scores 0–3) in 71% of the patients and was statistically independent from age group or AVM grading. Patients with ruptured AVMs at presentation had significantly better preoperative mRS scores (p < 0.001) and more favorable mRS scores at the last follow-up (p = 0.04) than patients with unruptured AVMs.
Outcomes were favorable after AVM resection in both groups of patients. Elderly patients with brain AVMs treated microsurgically were notable for small nidus size, AVM rupture, and low SM grades. Microsurgical resection is an important treatment modality for elderly patients with AVMs, and supplemented SM grading is a useful tool for the selection of patients who are most likely to achieve good neurological outcomes after resection.