Object: Radiation is a common treatment modality for pediatric brain tumors. The authors present a retrospective review of six children who developed cerebral cavernous malformations after they underwent radiation treatment for central nervous system (CNS) neoplasia and propose two possible models to explain the formation of cavernous malformations.
Methods: Three boys, aged 13, 9, and 17 years, suffered intracerebral hemorrhages from cerebral cavernous malformations 87, 94, and 120 months, respectively, after they received whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) for acute lymphocytic leukemia. A 10-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man developed temporal lobe cavernous malformations 46 and 48 months, respectively, after they received radiation therapy for posterior fossa astrocytomas. A 12-year-old girl developed a temporal lobe cavernous malformation 45 months after WBRT was administered for a medulloblastoma. In all of these cases the cavernous malformation appeared in the irradiated field, was not known to be present prior to radiation therapy, and developed after a latency period following treatment. The incidence of cavernous malformations in these patients suggests that children who undergo radiation therapy of the brain may have an increased risk of hemorrhage.
Conclusions: Two possible models may explain the formation of cavernous malformations following brain radiation in these patients. First, the cavernous malformations may form de novo in response to the radiation. Second, the cavernous malformations may have been present, but radiographically occult, at the time of radiation therapy and may have hemorrhaged in response to the radiation. The authors conclude that cavernous malformations may develop after brain radiation and propose a possible mechanism for this formation.