Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a commonly employed treatment modality for brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). However, due to the low frequency of delayed cyst formation after AVM SRS, as well as the prolonged time interval between treatment and its occurrence, the characteristics of post-SRS cyst formation are not well defined. Therefore, the aims of this retrospective cohort study are to determine the rate of cyst formation after SRS for AVMs, identify predictive factors, and evaluate the clinical sequelae of post-SRS cysts.
The authors analyzed an SRS database for AVM patients who underwent SRS at the University of Virginia and identified those who developed post-SRS cysts. Statistical analyses were performed to determine predictors of post-SRS cyst formation and the effect of cyst formation on new or worsening seizures after SRS.
The study cohort comprised 1159 AVM patients treated with SRS; cyst formation occurred in 17 patients (post-SRS cyst rate of 1.5%). Compared with patients who did not develop post-SRS cysts, those with cyst formation were treated with a greater number of radiosurgical isocenters (mean 3.8 vs 2.8, p = 0.047), had a longer follow-up (mean 132 vs 71 months, p < 0.001), were more likely to develop radiological radiation-induced changes (RIC) (64.7% vs 36.1%, p = 0.021), and had a longer duration of RIC (57 vs 21 months, p < 0.001). A higher number of isocenters (p = 0.014), radiological RIC (p = 0.002), and longer follow-up (p = 0.034) were found to be independent predictors of post-SRS cyst formation in the multivariate analysis. There was a trend toward a significant association between cyst formation and new or worsening seizures in univariate analysis (p = 0.054).
Patients with greater nidal complexity appear to be more prone to post-SRS cyst formation. The findings of this study emphasize the importance of long-term follow-up for patients who have undergone AVM SRS, even after nidal obliteration is achieved. Post-SRS cysts may be epileptogenic, although seizure outcomes after AVM SRS are multifactorial.