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J Neurosurg. 2006 Aug;105(2 Suppl):82-7.

Superior outcomes in children compared with adults after microsurgical resection of brain arteriovenous malformations.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.



Young age is considered an important factor in determining outcomes after microsurgical resection of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), but better results in children have not been adequately explained. A consecutive series of pediatric and adult patients was reviewed to determine whether differences in outcomes between these two groups were due to differences in AVM anatomy, rupture rates, neurological condition at presentation, treatment techniques, or other causes.


As assessed using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS), patient characteristics, clinical presentation, AVM anatomy, treatment techniques, and outcomes were compared between age groups. Thirty-two pediatric and 192 adult patients underwent microsurgical AVM resection during a 6.4-year period; complete resection was achieved in 97% of the children and 98% of adults. Superior outcomes were observed in children, who had better final mRS scores (p = 0.003) and more favorable changes in these scores (the condition of 94% of children improved or remained unchanged, compared with 70% of adults; p = 0.001). The change in the mean mRS scores was 1.31 for children and 0.14 for adults (p = 0.001). There were no significant clinical, anatomical, or therapeutic differences between children and adults.


This analysis confirms the observation that children fare better than adults after microsurgical AVM resection. This discrepancy cannot be explained by differences in AVM anatomy, lesion rupture rates, presenting neurological condition, or treatment techniques, leading the authors to infer that neural plasticity may augment surgical tolerance and recovery in children. These findings bolster the choice of aggressive microsurgical management of AVMs and recalibration of surgical risk assessment in children.

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