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Bengt Karlsson, Kaj Ericson, Lars Kihlström, and Per Grane

✓ In a series of 22 patients treated with gamma knife surgery for brain metastasis in whom biopsy specimens were obtained via stereotactically guided procedures before the radiosurgical treatment was administered, two cases with evidence of tumor seeding were observed on subsequent follow-up examination. These findings contradict the opinion that the risk for tumor spread after a biopsy is negligible. This evidence may be explained by the fact that radiosurgery leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected by the treatment, which results in preserved anatomy around the tumor. This allows the surgeon to define the previous biopsy channel and, consequently, whether a distant tumor recurrence may have resulted from tumor seeding related to the biopsy procedure. Additionally, radiosurgical treatment leaves tumor cells that may have been spread as a result of the biopsy unaffected, giving them the potential to divide and develop into a new tumor. In contrast to this, microsurgical removal of the tumor will affect the surrounding tissue, making it impossible to detect whether new metastases are resulting from seeding. Furthermore, conventional fractionated radiation therapy will sterilize tumor cells that may have spread, thus making it impossible for these cells to regrow.

The authors conclude that the risk for tumor seeding following a stereotactically guided biopsy may be higher than previously assumed.

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Bengt Karlsson, Lars Kihlström, Christer Lindquist, Kaj Ericson, and Ladislau Steiner

Object. The authors examined 22 patients with cavernous malformations (CMs) who had undergone gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS) to assess the value of this procedure in treating these lesions.

Methods. At the Karolinska Hospital, GKRS was used to treat 23 patients with CMs during the period of 1985 through 1996. One of the patients was lost to follow up and the treatment results of the 22 remaining patients were analyzed. In the first half of the series, the CMs were treated with high doses of radiation (> 15-Gy dose to the periphery); in the second half of the series, lower doses were used.

Nine of the 22 patients suffered a post-GKRS hemorrhage and six developed a radiation-induced complication (two of these patients experienced both). Some time after GKRS was performed, surgical removal of the CM had to be undertaken in four patients because of hemorrhage and in two patients because of radiation-induced complications. Four of the nine patients who experienced no post-GKRS hemorrhage or radiation-induced complication were treated before 1990; recent magnetic resonance imaging revealed a decrease in the size of the CM in three of these individuals and no size change in the other.

The annual post-GKRS hemorrhage rate was 8% in this group. There was a trend in the hemorrhage rate to decrease 4 years postsurgery. There was also a trend for higher radiation doses administered to the periphery of the lesion to result in a lower risk of posttreatment hemorrhage. However, it could not be concluded whether GKRS affects the natural course of a CM. The incidence of radiation-induced complications was approximately seven times higher than that expected if the same number of patients had been treated by GKRS with the same radiation dose distributions for arteriovenous malformations instead of CMs.

Conclusions. The high incidence of radiation-induced complications does not seem to justify the limited protection the treatment may afford in only exceptional cases. A prospective randomized study is needed before the role of radiosurgery in the management of these lesions can be defined. Until such a study has proved differently, a caveat must be raised for the treatment of CM with GKRS.

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Michael Söderman, Göran Edner, Kaj Ericson, Bengt Karlsson, Tiit Rähn, Elfar Ulfarsson, and Tommy Andersson

Object

The aim of this study was to assess the clinical efficacy of gamma knife surgery (GKS) in the treatment of dural arteriovenous shunts (DAVSs).

Methods

From a database of more than 1600 patients with intracranial arteriovenous shunts that had been treated with GKS, the authors retrospectively and prospectively identified 53 patients with 58 DAVSs from the period between 1978 and 2003. Four patients were lost to follow-up evaluation and were excluded from the series. Thus, this study is based on the remaining 49 patients with 52 DAVSs. Thirty-six of the shunts drained into the cortical venous system, either directly or indirectly, and 22 of these were associated with intracranial hemorrhage on patient presentation. The mean prescription radiation dose was 22 Gy (range 10–28 Gy).

All patients underwent a clinical follow-up examination. In 41 cases of DAVS a follow-up angiography study was performed. At the 2-year follow-up visit, 28 cases (68%) had angiographically proven obliteration of the shunt and in another 10 cases (24%) there was significant flow regression. Three shunts remained unchanged.

There was one immediate minor complication related to the administration of radiation. Furthermore, one patient had a radiation-induced complication 10 years after treatment, although she recovered completely. There was one posterior fossa bleed 2 months after radiosurgery; a hematoma, as well as a lesion, was evacuated, and the patient recovered uneventfully. A second patient had an asymptomatic occipital hemorrhage approximately 6 months postradiosurgery.

The clinical outcome after GKS was significantly better than that in patients with naturally progressing shunts (p < 0.01, chi-square test); figures on the latter have been reported previously.

Conclusions

Gamma knife surgery is an effective treatment for DAVSs, with a low risk of complications. Major disadvantages of this therapy include the time elapsed before obliteration and the possibility that not all shunts will be obliterated. Cortical venous drainage from a DAVS, a risk factor for intracranial hemorrhage, is therefore a relative contraindication. Consequently, GKS can be used in the treatment of both benign DAVSs with subjectively intolerable bruit and aggressive DAVSs not responsive to endovascular treatment or surgery.

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Jason Sheehan