Management of intracranial aneurysms associated with arteriovenous malformations

Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep;37(3):E11. doi: 10.3171/2014.6.FOCUS14165.


Intracranial or brain arteriovenous malformations (BAVMs) are some of the most interesting and challenging lesions treated by the cerebrovascular neurosurgeon. It is generally believed that the combination of BAVMs and intracranial aneurysms (IAs) is associated with higher hemorrhage rates at presentation and higher rehemorrhage rates and thus with a more aggressive course and natural history. There is wide variation in the literature on the prevalence of BAVM-associated aneurysms (range 2.7%-58%), with 10%-20% being most often cited in the largest case series. The risk of intracranial hemorrhage in patients with unruptured BAVMs and coexisting IAs has been reported to be 7% annually, compared with 2%-4% annually for those with BAVM alone. Several different classification systems have been applied in an attempt to better understand the natural history of this combination of lesions and implications for treatment. Independent of the classification used, it is clear that a few subtypes of aneurysms have a direct hemodynamic correlation with the BAVM itself. This is exemplified by the fact that the presence of a distal flow-related or an intranidal aneurysm appears to be associated with an increased hemorrhage risk, when compared with an aneurysm located on a vessel with no direct supply to the BAVM nidus. Debate still exists regarding the etiology of the association between those two vascular lesions, the subsequent implications for patients' risk of hemorrhagic stroke, and finally the determination of which patients warrant treatment and when. The ultimate goals of the treatment of a BAVM associated with an IA are to prevent hemorrhage, avoid stepwise neurological deterioration, and eliminate the mortality risk associated with recurrent hemorrhagic events. The treatment is only justifiable if the risks associated with an intervention are lower than or equivalent to the long-term risks of disability or mortality caused by the lesion itself. When faced with this difficult decision, a few questions need to be answered by the treating neu-rosurgeon: What is the mode of presentation? What is the symptomatic lesion? Which one of the lesions bled? What is the relationship between the BAVM and IA? Is it possible to safely treat both BAVM and IA? The objective of this review is to discuss the demographics, natural history, classification, and strategies for management of BAVMs associated with IAs.

Keywords: ARUBA = A Randomized Trial of Unruptured Arteriovenous Malformations; AVM = arteriovenous malformation; BAVM = brain AVM; IA = intracranial aneurysm; IVH = intraventricular hemorrhage; NPPB = normal perfusion pressure breakthrough; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery; brain arteriovenous malformation; flow-related aneurysm; intranidal aneurysm; management strategies; review.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Disease Management*
  • Endovascular Procedures*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / complications
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / epidemiology
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / surgery
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations* / complications
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations* / epidemiology
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations* / surgery
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / etiology
  • Male
  • Microsurgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed