Surgical management of arteriovenous malformations in children

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  • 1 Division of Neurological Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
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Object

Children compose 3 to 20% of the patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs); however, AVMs are responsible for 30 to 50% of intracranial hemorrhages in children.

Methods

The medical records of 82 children with 84 AVMs treated surgically between 1983 and 2005 were reviewed. Fifty-two patients (63%) presented with hemorrhage, 13.4% presented with seizures, and AVMs in 12% were found incidentally. Patients with brainstem lesions presented at a significantly younger age (p = 0.002) than those harboring lesions in other locations. Frontal lobe lesions were significantly smaller than those in other locations, and thalamic lesions were significantly larger (p = 0.012 and 0.005, respectively). Most patients with Spetzler–Martin Grades I to III lesions underwent craniotomy only. Half of the patients with Grade IV and V lesions underwent embolization, craniotomy, and radiosurgery.

The mean follow-up period was 43 months. Postoperatively, the initial obliteration rate was 65%, with a long-term obliteration rate of 90%. The perioperative mortality rate was 3.7%. Altogether, 81% of patients had excellent outcomes, and patients with Grade I lesions had the best outcomes. Of the 52 patients who presented with hemorrhage, 17% had fair or poor outcomes. The recurrence rate was 5.6%.

Conclusions

Children with AVMs may be more prone than adults to present with a hemorrhage and to experience recurrence of the lesion after treatment. The authors favor resection for most AVMs in children and use embolization as a preoperative strategy for Grades II to V lesions treated surgically. Prehemorrhagic Grade IV and V lesions may best be treated conservatively and observed carefully for the development of symptoms. Long-term follow up of all patients is essential.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

AVM = arteriovenous malformation; GCS = Glasgow Coma Scale.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Felipe C. Albuquerque, M.D., c/o Neuroscience Publications, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 West Thomas Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85013. email: neuropub@chw.edu.
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