There are few reported series regarding volume-staged Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) for the treatment of large, complex, cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). The object of this study was to report the results of using volume-staged Gamma Knife radiosurgery for patients affected by large and complex AVMs.
Data from 20 patients with large AVMs were prospectively included in the authors' AVM database between 2004 and 2012. A staging strategy was used when treating lesion volumes larger than 10 cm3. Hemorrhage and seizures were the presenting clinical feature for 6 (30%) and 8 (40%) patients, respectively. The median AVM volume was 15.9 cm3 (range 10.1–34.3 cm3). The mean interval between stages (± standard deviation) was 15 months (± 9 months). The median margin dose for each stage was 20 Gy (range 18–25 Gy).
Obliteration was confirmed in 8 (42%) patients after a mean follow-up of 45 months (range 19–87 months). A significant reduction (> 75%) of the original nidal volume was achieved in 4 (20%) patients. Engel Class I–II seizure status was reported by 75% of patients presenting with seizures (50% Engel Class I and 25% Engel Class II) after radiosurgery. After radiosurgery, 71.5% (5/7) of patients who had presented with a worsening neurological deficit reported a complete resolution or amelioration. None of the patients who presented acutely because of hemorrhage experienced a new bleeding episode during follow-up. One (5%) patient developed radionecrosis that caused sensorimotor hemisyndrome. Two (10%) patients sustained a bleeding episode after GKRS, although only 1 (5%) was symptomatic. High nidal flow rate and a time interval between stages of less than 11.7 months were factors significantly associated with AVM obliteration (p = 0.021 and p = 0.041, respectively). Patient age younger than 44 years was significantly associated with a greater than 75% reduction in AVM volume but not with AVM obliteration (p = 0.024).
According to the results of this study, volume-staged GKRS is an effective and safe treatment strategy for large, complex, cerebral AVMs for which microsurgery or endovascular approaches could carry substantially higher risks to the patient. Radiation doses up to 20 Gy can be safely administered. The time interval between stages should be shorter than 11.7 months to increase the chance of obliteration. High nidal flow and a patient age younger than 44 years were factors associated with nidus obliteration and significant nidus reduction, respectively.