Background: Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in the brainstem yield a high risk of hemorrhage. Although stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is accepted, because of high surgical morbidity and mortality, outcomes are still unclear.
Objective: We previously reported the early results of SRS for brainstem AVMs. Here, we obtained data from a longer follow-up for a larger number of patients and present precise outcomes based on the latest follow-up data.
Methods: Forty-four patients with brainstem AVMs were treated by SRS. Outcomes such as the rates of obliteration, hemorrhage after treatment, and adverse effects were retrospectively analyzed.
Results: The annual hemorrhage rate before SRS was 17.5%. The mean follow-up period after SRS was 71 months (range, 2-168 months). The actuarial obliteration rate confirmed by angiography was 52% at 5 years. Factors associated with higher obliteration rate were previous hemorrhage (P = .048) and higher margin dose (P = .048). For patients treated with a margin dose of ≥ 18 Gy, the obliteration rate was 71% at 5 years. Persistent worsening of neurological symptoms was observed in 5%. The annual hemorrhage rate after SRS was 2.4%. Four patients died of rebleeding, and disease-specific survival rate was 86% at 10 years after treatment.
Conclusion: Nidus obliteration must be achieved for brainstem AVMs because they possibly cause lethal hemorrhage even after SRS. Treatment with a high margin dose is desirable to obtain favorable outcomes for these lesions. Additional treatment should be considered for an incompletely obliterated nidus.