The optimal method for detecting recurrent arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in children is unknown. An inherent preference exists for MR angiography (MRA) surveillance rather than arteriography. The validity of this strategy is uncertain.
A retrospective chart review was performed on pediatric patients treated for cerebral AVMs at a single institution from 1998 to 2012. Patients with complete obliteration of the AVM nidus after treatment and more than 12 months of follow-up were included in the analysis. Data collection focused on recurrence rates, associated risk factors, and surveillance methods.
A total of 45 patients with a mean age of 11.7 years (range 0.5–18 years) were treated for AVMs via surgical, endovascular, radiosurgical, or combined approaches. Total AVM obliteration on posttreatment digital subtraction angiography (DSA) was confirmed in 27 patients, of whom the 20 with more than 12 months of follow-up were included in subsequent analysis. The mean follow-up duration in this cohort was 5.75 years (median 5.53 years, range 1.11–10.64 years). Recurrence occurred in 3 of 20 patients (15%). Two recurrences were detected by surveillance DSA and 1 at the time of rehemorrhage. No recurrences were detected by MRA. Median time to recurrence was 33.6 months (range 19–71 months). Two patients (10%) underwent follow-up DSA, 5 (25%) had DSA and MRI/MRA, 9 (45%) had MRI/MRA only, 1 (5%) had CT angiography only, and 3 (15%) had no imaging within the first 3 years of follow-up. After 5 years posttreatment, 2 patients (10%) were followed with MRI/MRA only, 2 (10%) with DSA only, and 10 (50%) with continued DSA and MRI/MRA.
AVM recurrence in children occurred at a median of 33.6 months, when MRA was more commonly used for surveillance, but failed to detect any recurrences. A recurrence rate of 15% may be an underestimate given the reliance on surveillance MRA over angiography. A new surveillance strategy is proposed, taking into account exposure to diagnostic radiation and the potential for catastrophic rehemorrhage.