Cigarette smoking has been well established as a risk factor in vascular pathology, such as cerebral aneurysms. However, tobacco’s implications for patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are controversial. The object of this study was to identify predictors of AVM obliteration and risk factors for complications.
The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database for all patients with AVMs treated using surgical excision, staged endovascular embolization (with N-butyl-cyanoacrylate or Onyx), stereotactic radiosurgery (Gamma Knife or Linear Accelerator), or a combination thereof between 1994 and 2010. Medical risk factors, such as smoking, abuse of alcohol or intravenous recreational drugs, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and coronary artery disease, were documented. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to detect predictors of periprocedural complications, obliteration, and posttreatment hemorrhage.
Of 774 patients treated at a single tertiary care cerebrovascular center, 35% initially presented with symptomatic hemorrhage and 57.6% achieved complete obliteration according to digital subtraction angiography (DSA) or MRI. In a multivariate analysis a negative smoking history (OR 1.9, p = 0.006) was a strong independent predictor of AVM obliteration. Of the patients with obliterated AVMs, 31.9% were smokers, whereas 45% were not (p = 0.05). Multivariate analysis of obliteration, after controlling for AVM size and location (eloquent vs noneloquent tissue), revealed that nonsmokers were more likely (0.082) to have obliterated AVMs through radiosurgery. Smoking was not predictive of treatment complications or posttreatment hemorrhage. Abuse of alcohol or intravenous recreational drugs, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease had no discernible effect on AVM obliteration, periprocedural complications, or posttreatment hemorrhage.
Cerebral AVM patients with a history of smoking are significantly less likely than those without a smoking history to have complete AVM obliteration on follow-up DSA or MRI. Therefore, patients with AVMs should be strongly advised to quit smoking.