BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: A Randomized Trial of Unruptured Brain Arteriovenous Malformations (ARUBA) indicated the superiority of medical management in reducing the risks for strokes and other neurological deficits over observation alone. The aim of our study was to verify the rationale for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for small unruptured arteriovenous malformation.
METHODS: A retrospective review was performed for 292 patients with unruptured arteriovenous malformations referred for SRS. The risks for cerebral hemorrhages were statistically compared before and after SRS.
RESULTS: Of the 292 patients in whom arteriovenous malformation was found unruptured at initial diagnosis, 17 sustained hemorrhages in the period between the diagnosis and the initial therapeutic intervention (annual bleeding rate, 2.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2%–3.4%). Of the remaining 275 patients, 240 were initially treated with SRS, and 16 sustained a hemorrhage after SRS (annual bleeding rate, 1.1%; 95% CI, 0.6%–1.8%), but only 2 sustained a hemorrhage after angiographic obliteration (annual bleeding rate, 0.3%; 95% CI, 0.04%–1.2%). Comparing the risk of hemorrhage between the periods before and after SRS, a 53% risk reduction was achieved after SRS (hazard ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.24–0.94; P=0.03), and 85% reduction was achieved after angiographic obliteration (hazard ratio, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.02–0.53; P=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: SRS can significantly reduce the risk of stroke in the patients with small unruptured arteriovenous malformations. To definitively determine the clinical benefits of SRS, a longer follow-up will be necessary. However, based on our results, we can recommend SRS for patients who face a latent risk for stroke from this intractable vascular disease.