Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of Gamma knife surgery (GKS) in treating cavernous malformation (CM).
Methods: From 1994 to 2001, 92 patients with 114 CMs were treated by GKS and then followed up for 2-8 years (mean 4.1+/-1.9). We analyzed the MRI features of CMs bleeding, efficacy of GKS, and the complications of treatment. Six pathological specimens after radiosurgery (1 from our group, 5 from other centers) were also assayed.
Results: Among 43 patients who were treated by GKS to control their epilepsy, epileptic paroxysm was alleviated in 36 patients (83.7%), including 12 (27.9%) seizure-free. Rebleeding was confirmed in 9 patients (9.8%) by neuroimage, one of whom died. Transient symptomatic radiation edema occurred in 7 cases (7.6%) within 6-12 months after radiosurgery, and one patient underwent open surgery for cerebral decompression. The main pathological changes of cavernoma were coagulation necrosis and the vessels obliterated gradually after radiosurgery.
Conclusions: It is feasible to treat small and surgically high risk CMs by radiosurgery. The treatment has to be prudent in an acute bleeding and symptomatic progression. Optimal treatment timing and dose planning are prerequisites to reduce radiation-related complications. GKS is safe and effective to control the epilepsy caused by CMs, and also to bring down the rebleeding rate after a latency interval of several years.