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JAMA. 2011 Nov 9;306(18):2011-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.1632.

Treatment of brain arteriovenous malformations: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Outcomes following treatment of brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) with microsurgery, embolization, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), or combinations vary greatly between studies.


To assess rates of case fatality, long-term risk of hemorrhage, complications, and successful obliteration of brain AVMs after interventional treatment and to assess determinants of these outcomes.


We searched PubMed and EMBASE to March 1, 2011, and hand-searched 6 journals from January 2000 until March 2011.


We identified studies fulfilling predefined inclusion criteria. We used Poisson regression analyses to explore associations of patient and study characteristics with case fatality, complications, long-term risk of hemorrhage, and successful brain AVM obliteration.


We identified 137 observational studies including 142 cohorts, totaling 13,698 patients and 46,314 patient-years of follow-up. Case fatality was 0.68 (95% CI, 0.61-0.76) per 100 person-years overall, 1.1 (95% CI, 0.87-1.3; n = 2549) after microsurgery, 0.50 (95% CI, 0.43-0.58; n = 9436) after SRS, and 0.96 (95% CI, 0.67-1.4; n = 1019) after embolization. Intracranial hemorrhage rates were 1.4 (95% CI, 1.3-1.5) per 100 person-years overall, 0.18 (95% CI, 0.10-0.30) after microsurgery, 1.7 (95% CI, 1.5-1.8) after SRS, and 1.7 (95% CI, 1.3-2.3) after embolization. More recent studies were associated with lower case-fatality rates (rate ratio [RR], 0.972; 95% CI, 0.955-0.989) but increased rates of hemorrhage (RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.00-1.03). Male sex (RR, 0.964; 95% CI, 0.945-0.984), small brain AVMs (RR, 0.988; 95% CI, 0.981-0.995), and those with strictly deep venous drainage (RR, 0.975; 95% CI, 0.960-0.990) were associated with lower case fatality. Lower hemorrhage rates were associated with male sex (RR, 0.976, 95% CI, 0.964-0.988), small brain AVMs (RR, 0.988, 95% CI, 0.980-0.996), and brain AVMs with deep venous drainage (0.982, 95% CI, 0.969-0.996). Complications leading to permanent neurological deficits or death occurred in a median 7.4% (range, 0%-40%) of patients after microsurgery, 5.1% (range, 0%-21%) after SRS, and 6.6% (range, 0%-28%) after embolization. Successful brain AVM obliteration was achieved in 96% (range, 0%-100%) of patients after microsurgery, 38% (range, 0%-75%) after SRS, and 13% (range, 0%-94%) after embolization.


Although case fatality after treatment has decreased over time, treatment of brain AVM remains associated with considerable risks and incomplete efficacy. Randomized controlled trials comparing different treatment modalities appear justified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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