Population-based analysis of arteriovenous malformation treatment

Jan Hillman M.D., Ph.D.1
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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden
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Object. The author sought to describe overall management data on cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and to focus the actuarial need for different treatment modalities on a population-based scale. Such data would seem important in the planning of regional or national multimodality strategies for the treatment of AVMs. This analysis of a nonselected, consecutive series of patients representing every diagnosed case of cerebral AVM in a population of 1,000,000 over one decade may serve to shed some light on these treatment aspects.

Methods. During the 11-year period from 1989 to 1999, data from every patient harboring a cerebral AVM that was presented clinically or discovered incidentally in a strictly defined population of 986,000 people were collected prospectively. No patient was lost to follow up. There were 12.4 de novo diagnosed AVMs per 1,000,000 population per year (135 AVMs). Large high-grade AVMs (Spetzler—Martin classification) were rare, and Grade 1 to 3 lesions represented 85% of the caseload. Hemorrhage was the initial manifestation of AVM in 69.6% of the cases. Intracerebral hematoma was the most common hemorrhagic manifestation occurring in 78 patients. There were 4.4 cases per 1,000,000 population per year of hematomas needing expedient surgical evacuation. In the remaining patients who did not require hematoma surgery, small, critically located Grade 3 and Grade 4 lesions amounted to 1.6 cases per 1,000,000 population per year. There were 5.8 cases per 1,000,000 population per year of Grade 1 to 2 and larger noncritically located Grade 3 malformations. There were 0.5 cases per 1,000,000 population per year of Grade 5 AVMs. The overall outcome in 135 patients was classified as good according to the Glasgow Outcome Scale (Score 5) in 61% of the cases, and the overall mortality rate was 9%.

Conclusions. In centers with population-based referral, AVM of the brain is predominantly a disease related to intracranial bleeding, and parenchymal clots have a profound impact on overall management outcome. The rupture of an AVM is as devastating as that of an aneurysm. Aneurysm ruptures are more lethal, whereas AVM rupture tends to result in more neurological disability due to the high occurrence of lobar intracerebral hematoma. In an attempt to quantify the need for different modalities of AVM treatment based on a population of 1,000,000 people, figures for surgeries performed range from six to 10 operations per year and embolization as well as gamma knife surgery procedures range from two to seven per year, depending on the strategy at hand. When using nonsurgical approaches to Grade 1 to 3 lesions, the number of patients requiring treatment with more than one method for obliteration increases drastically as does the potential risk for procedure-related complications.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Jan Hillman, M.D., Ph.D., Neurosurgical Department, University Hospital, 58185 Linköping, Sweden. email: jan.hillman@lio.se.
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