The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term imaging and clinical outcomes of intracranial arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in children treated with Gamma Knife surgery (GKS).
Between 1989 and 2007, 200 patients with AVMs who were 18 years of age or younger were treated at the University of Virginia Health System. Excluding 14 patients who had not reached 2-year follow-up, 186 patients comprised this study. Hemorrhage was the most common presenting symptom leading to the diagnosis of AVMs (71.5%). The mean nidus volume was 3.2 cm3 at the time of GKS, and a mean prescription dose of 21.9 Gy was used.
After initial GKS, 49.5% of patients achieved total angiographic obliteration. Forty-one patients whose AVM nidi remained patent underwent additional GKS. The obliteration rate increased to 58.6% after a second or multiple GKS. Subtotal obliteration was achieved in 9 patients (4.8%). Forty-nine patients (26.3%) still had a patent residual nidus. In 19 patients (10.2%), obliteration was confirmed on MR imaging only. Ten patients had 17 hemorrhages during the follow-up period. The hemorrhage rate was 5.4% within 2 years after GKS and 0.8% between 2 and 5 years. Six patients developed neurological deficits along with the radiation-induced changes. Two patients developed asymptomatic meningiomas 10 and 12 years after GKS. After a mean clinical follow-up of 98 months, less than 4% of patients had difficulty attending school or developing a career.
Gamma Knife surgery offers a reasonable chance of obliteration of an AVM in pediatric patients. The incidence of symptomatic radiation-induced changes is relatively low; however, long-term clinical and imaging follow-up is required to identify delayed cyst formation and secondary tumors.