Cavernous malformations of the basal ganglia in children

Clinical article

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  • Department of Neurological Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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Object

Cavernous malformations (CMs) of the basal ganglia are relatively rare lesions that can lead to considerable neurological impairment because of their eloquent location. The authors reviewed the clinical course and surgical outcome of a series of children with basal ganglia CMs.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the operative experience of the senior author (R.M.S.) and the 1997–2011 database of Boston Children's Hospital for children with CM of the basal ganglia (which includes CM of the caudate and/or lentiform nucleus and excludes CM of the thalamus). They evaluated baseline demographics, presenting signs, operative outcomes, and condition at long-term follow-up visits and compared these characteristics among patients who underwent surgery and those who were observed.

Results

Of 180 children with a diagnosis of CM, 11 (6%) had CM of the basal ganglia. The mean age at diagnosis was 9.3 years, and the male/female ratio was 1.8:1. Presenting signs were as follows: hemorrhage (8 children), incidental lesions (2), and seizures (1); 2 children had choreiform movement disorders. Treatment was observation or surgery. Observation was chosen for 5 children either because the lesions were asymptomatic (2 children) or because the risk for neurological dysfunction after attempted excision was believed to be high (3 children). These 5 children were observed over a combined total of 30.4 patient-years; none experienced neurological deterioration or symptomatic hemorrhage from their lesions. The other 6 children underwent microsurgical resection of the lesion because they were symptomatic from hemorrhage or increasing mass effect. All 6 of these children had hemorrhagic lesions, of which the smallest dimension was at least 1.5 cm. Of these 6 lesions, 5 were excised completely, and over a combined total of 46 patient-years of follow-up, no rebleeding or late neurological deterioration after surgery was reported.

Conclusions

In this patient population, the natural history of small and asymptomatic CMs of the basal ganglia was benign. The children with large (> 1.5 cm) symptomatic lesions underwent excision; neurological impairment was apparently minimal, and no hemorrhage or neurological deterioration occurred later.

Abbreviation used in this paper:

CM = cavernous malformation.

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