The authors conducted a study to define the long-term outcomes and risks of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for pediatric arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).
Between 1987 and 2006, the authors performed Gamma Knife surgery in 996 patients with brain AVMs; 135 patients were younger than 18 years of age. The median maximum diameter and target volumes were 2.0 cm (range 0.6–5.2 cm) and 2.5 cm3 (range 0.1–17.5 cm3), respectively. The median margin dose was 20 Gy (range 15–25 Gy).
The actuarial rates of total obliteration documented by angiography or MR imaging at 71.3 months (range 6–264 months) were 45%, 64%, 67%, and 72% at 3, 4, 5, and 10 years, respectively. The median time to complete angiographically documented obliteration was 48.9 months. Of 81 patients with 4 or more years of follow-up, 57 patients (70%) had total obliteration documented by angiography. Factors associated with a higher rate of documented AVM obliteration were smaller AVM target volume, smaller maximum diameter, and larger margin dose. In 8 patients (6%) a hemorrhage occurred during the latency interval, and 1 patient died. The rates of AVM hemorrhage after SRS were 0%, 1.6%, 2.4%, 5.5%, and 10.0% at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 years, respectively. The overall annual hemorrhage rate was 1.8%. Larger volume AVMs were associated with a significantly higher risk of hemorrhage after SRS. Permanent neurological deficits due to adverse radiation effects developed in 2 patients (1.5%) after SRS, and in 1 patient (0.7%) delayed cyst formation occurred.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a gradually effective and relatively safe management option for pediatric patients in whom surgery is considered to pose excessive risks. Although hemorrhage after AVM obliteration did not occur in the present series, patients remain at risk during the latency interval until obliteration is complete. The best candidates for SRS are pediatric patients with smaller volume AVMs located in critical brain regions.