The aim of this study was to examine the impact of deliberate employment of postoperative hypotension on delayed postoperative hemorrhage (DPH) for all Spetzler-Ponce Class (SPC) C brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs) and SPC B bAVMs ≥ 3.5 cm in diameter (SPC B 3.5+).
A protocol of deliberate employment of postoperative hypotension was introduced in June 1997 for all SPC C and SPC B 3.5+ bAVMs. The aim was to achieve a maximum mean arterial blood pressure (BP) ≤ 70 mm Hg (with cerebral perfusion pressure > 50 mm Hg) for a minimum of 7 days after resection of bAVMs (BP protocol). The authors compared patients who experienced DPH (defined as brain hemorrhage into the resection bed that resulted in a new neurological deficit or that resulted in reoperation during the hospitalization for microsurgical bAVM resection) between 2 periods (prior to adopting the BP protocol and after introduction of the BP protocol) and 4 bAVM categories (SPC A, SPC B 3.5− [that is, SPC B < 3.5 cm maximum diameter], SPC B 3.5+, and SPC C). Patients excluded from treatment by the BP protocol were managed in the intensive care unit to avoid moderate hypertensive episodes. The pooled cases of all bAVM treated by surgery were analyzed to identify characteristics associated with the risk of DPH. These identified characteristics were then examined by multiple logistic regression analysis in both SPC B 3.5+ and SPC C cases.
From a cohort of 641 bAVMs treated by microsurgery, 32 patients with DPH were identified. Of those, 66% (95% CI 48–80) had a permanent new neurological deficit with a modified Rankin Scale score of 2–6. This included a mortality rate of 13% (95% CI 4.4–29). The BP protocol was used to treat 162 patients with either SPC B 3.5+ or SPC C. For SPC B 3.5+, there was no significant reduction in DPH with the introduction of the BP protocol (p = 0.77). For SPC C, there was a significant (p = 0.035) reduction of DPH from 29% (95% CI 13%–53%) to 8.2% (95% CI 3.2%–18%) associated with the introduction of the BP protocol. Multiple logistic regression analysis found that the absence of the BP protocol (p = 0.011, odds ratio 7.5, 95% CI 1.6–36) remained significant for the development of DPH in patients with SPC C bAVMs.
Treating patients with SPC C bAVMs with a protocol that lowers BP immediately after resection seems to reduce the risk of DPH. For SPC A and SPC B 3.5− bAVMs, there is unlikely to be a need to do more than avoid postoperative hypertension. For SPC B 3.5+ bAVMs, a larger number of patients would be required to test the absence of benefit of the BP protocol.