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Neurosurgery. 2009 Jul;65(1):7-18; discussion 18-9. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000347009.32480.D8.

Cavernous malformations of the basal ganglia and thalamus.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine and McGaw Medical Center, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


Cavernous malformations of the basal ganglia and thalamus present a unique therapeutic challenge to the neurosurgeon given their unclear natural history, the risk of surgical treatment, and the unproven efficacy of radiosurgical therapy. Via a PubMed search of the English and French literature, we have systematically reviewed the natural history and surgical and radiosurgical management of these lesions reported through April 2008. Including rates cited for "deep" cavernous malformations, annual bleeding rates for these lesions varied from 2.8% to 4.1% in the natural history studies. Across surgical series providing postoperative or long-term outcome data on 103 patients, we found an 89% resection rate, a 10% risk of long-term surgical morbidity, and a 1.9% risk of surgical mortality. The decrease in hemorrhage risk reported 2 years after radiosurgery might be a result of natural hemorrhage clustering, underscoring the unproven efficacy of this therapeutic modality. Given the compounded risks of radiation-induced injury and post-radiosurgical rebleeding, radiosurgery at modest dosimetry (12-14 Gy marginal doses) is only an option for patients with surgically inaccessible, aggressive lesions.

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