Stereotactic radiosurgery for cavernous malformations

J Neurosurg. 2000 Dec;93(6):987-91. doi: 10.3171/jns.2000.93.6.0987.


Object: The use of stereotactic radiosurgery to treat cerebral cavernous malformations (CMs) is controversial. To evaluate the efficacy and safety of CM radiosurgery, the authors reviewed the experience at the Mayo Clinic during the past 10 years.

Methods: Seventeen patients underwent radiosurgery for high-surgical-risk CMs in the following sites: thalamus/basal ganglia (four patients), brainstem (12 patients), and corpus callosum (one patient). All patients had experienced at least two documented hemorrhages before undergoing radiosurgery. Stereotactic magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was used for target localization in all cases. The median margin radiation dose was 18 Gy and the median maximum dose was 32 Gy. The median length of follow-up review following radiosurgery was 51 months. The annual hemorrhage rate during the 51 months preceding radiosurgery was 40.1%, compared with 8.8% in the first 2 years following radiosurgery and 2.9% thereafter. In 10 patients (59%) new neurological deficits developed that were associated with regions of increased signal on long-repetition time MR imaging performed a median of 8 months (range 5-16 months) after radiosurgery. Three patients recovered, giving the group a permanent radiation-related morbidity rate of 41%. Compared with 31 patients harboring arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) of sizes and in locations similar to those of the aforementioned CMs, who underwent radiosurgery during the same time period, the patients with CMs were more likely to experience radiation-related complications (any complication, 59% compared with 10%; p < 0.001; permanent complication, 41% compared with 10%; p = 0.02).

Conclusions: It is impossible to conclude that radiosurgery protects patients with CMs against future hemorrhage risk based on the available data, although it appears that some reduction in the bleeding rate occurs after a latency interval of several years. The risk of radiation-related complications after radiosurgery to treat CMs is greater than that found after radiosurgery in AVMs, even when adjusting for lesion size and location and for radiation dose.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemangioma, Cavernous / diagnosis
  • Hemangioma, Cavernous / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Radiosurgery*
  • Treatment Outcome