Object. Stereotactic radiosurgery for arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) is an accepted treatment option, but few reports have been published on the results of this treatment in children. In this study the authors describe a series of pediatric patients with a minimum follow-up duration of 36 months.
Methods. From 1991 to 1997, 40 children (26 boys and 14 girls) with AVMs were treated with radiosurgery at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). Follow-up information was available for 31 children (20 boys and 11 girls) in whom the median age at initial treatment was 11.2 years (range 3.4–17.5 years). The median follow-up duration was 60 months (range 6–99 months). Sixteen percent of the AVMs were Spetzler—Martin Grade II; 68%, Grade III; 10%, Grade IV; and 6%, Grade V. The mean volume of the AVMs was 5.37 cm3 and the median volume was 1.6 cm3. The mean marginal dose of radiation was 16.7 Gy and the median dose was 18 Gy (range 12–19 Gy).
Angiography performed in 26 children confirmed obliteration of the AVM nidus in nine patients (35%), partial response in 16 patients (62%), and no response in one patient (4%). In five patients who refused angiography, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging revealed obliteration in two patients and partial response in three patients, bringing the overall obliteration rate associated with initial radiosurgery to 35%. Logistic regression analysis confirmed a significant correlation between marginal dose prescription and response (p = 0.025); in AVMs that received at least 18 Gy there was a 10-fold increase in the obliteration rate (63%) over AVMs that received a lower dose. Lesions smaller than 3 cm3 were associated with a sixfold increased obliteration rate (53%) over lesions larger than 3 cm3 (8%), but AVM volume was not a statistically significant predictor of response (p = 0.09). Twelve patients have since undergone repeated radiosurgery and are currently being followed up with serial MR imaging studies (in five cases, the AVM is now obliterated). During the follow-up period (1918 patient-months) there were eight hemorrhages in five patients, with a cumulative posttreatment hemorrhage rate of 3.2%/patient/year in the 1st year and a rate of 4.3%/patient/year over the first 3 years. There were two permanent neurological complications (6%) and no deaths in this study.
Conclusions. The lower overall obliteration rate reported in this series is most likely due to the larger mean AVM volumes treated at UCSF as well as conservative dose—volume prescriptions delivered to children. Significantly higher obliteration rates were observed when a marginal radiation dose of at least 18 Gy was delivered. The permanent complication rate is low and should encourage those treating children to use doses similar to those used in adults.