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Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jun 15;171(12):1317-22. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq082. Epub 2010 May 14.

Comparison of 2 approaches for determining the natural history risk of brain arteriovenous malformation rupture.

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Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.


Estimating risk of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) for patients with unruptured brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in the natural course is essential for assessing risks and benefits of treatment. Traditionally, the survival period starts at the time of diagnosis and ends at ICH, but most patients are quickly censored because of treatment. Alternatively, a survival period from birth to first ICH, censoring at the date of diagnosis, has been proposed. The authors quantitatively compared these 2 timelines using survival analysis in 1,581 Northern California brain AVM patients (2000-2007). Time-shift analysis of the birth-to-diagnosis timeline and maximum pseudolikelihood identified the point at which the 2 survival curves overlapped; the 95% confidence interval was determined using bootstrapping. Annual ICH rates per 100 patient-years were similar for both the birth-to-diagnosis (1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18, 1.36) and the diagnosis-to-ICH (1.17, 95% CI: 0.89, 1.53) timelines, despite differences in curve morphology. Shifting the birth-to-diagnosis timeline an optimal amount (10.3 years, 95% CI: 3.3, 17.4) resulted in similar ICH survival curves (P = 0.979). These results suggest that the unconventional birth-to-diagnosis approach can be used to analyze risk factors for natural history risk in unruptured brain AVM patients, providing greater statistical power. The data also suggest a biologic change around age 10 years influencing ICH rate.

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