Seizure outcome in patients with surgically treated cerebral arteriovenous malformations

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  • 1 Department of Neurologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
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✓ A series of 280 cases of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) treated surgically between June, 1970, and June, 1989, is reviewed with particular focus on the preoperative seizure history and follow-up seizure status. Follow-up evaluation (mean duration 7.5 years) was achieved in 98% of cases and was accomplished through re-examinations, telephone interviews, and written questionnaires. Overall, 89% of the surviving patients with a follow-up period of greater than 2 years were free of seizures at last examination.

Of the 280 patients in this series. 163 had experienced no seizures preoperatively. A recent follow-up study (with a minimum duration of 2 years or to death) was available in 157 of these 163 cases; 21 patients had died. Of the 136 surviving patients, only eight (6%) were having new ongoing seizures. In the 128 (94%) who had remained seizure-free, 73% were receiving no anticonvulsant agents while 27% were taking anticonvulsant prophylaxis. The 2-year minimum follow-up study in 110 of the 117 patients with preoperative seizures revealed that eight (7%) had died. Of the 102 surviving patients, 85 (83%) were seizure-free (with 48% no longer receiving anticonvulsant therapy), while 17 (17%) still suffered intermittent seizures. However, of these 17 patients, 13 reported their seizures to be improved compared to preoperatively; the seizures were the same in two patients and were worse in two patients.

An actuarial analysis was conducted comparing the life expectancy of patients following surgery for AVM's with the expected survival of a general white population of the same age and sex in the West Northcentral region of the United States. No statistically significant difference was found. There were seven perioperative deaths (three from cerebral hemorrhage, two from pulmonary emboli, and two from obstruction of venous drainage) and 22 deaths during the follow-up period. Of these 22 deaths, the cause was unknown in four patients, apparently unrelated to the AVM in 13, and directly or indirectly related to the patient's neurological condition prior to surgery or due to surgery performed for resection of the AVM in five.

There was a statistically significant relationship between the size and location of the AVM and the clinical presentation. Patients with small AVM's (< 3 cm) were more likely to present with hemorrhage whereas those with large AVM's were more likely to present with seizures.

Conclusions from this study are: 1) there is a low incidence of a new seizure disorder following surgery: 2) chances for resolution or control of a pre-existing seizure disorder are good: 3) although resolution of seizures or seizure control was achieved postoperatively in AVM's of all sizes, this benefit was highest in smaller as opposed to larger AVM's; and 4) ultimately, there is a good capacity for recovery from pre-existing neurological deficits or those resulting from surgery.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: David G. Piepgras, M.D., Department of Neurologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 Second Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55905.
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