Radiosurgery for low-grade intracranial arteriovenous malformations

Dale Ding, Chun P.O. Yen, Zhiyuan Xu, Robert M. Starke, Jason P. Sheehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Object. Low-grade, or Spetzler-Martin (SM) Grades I and II, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are associated with lower surgical morbidity rates than higher-grade lesions. While radiosurgery is now widely accepted as an effective treatment approach for AVMs, the risks and benefits of the procedure for low-grade AVMs, as compared with microsurgery, remain poorly understood. The authors of this study present the outcomes for a large cohort of low-grade AVMs treated with radiosurgery. Methods. From an institutional radiosurgery database comprising approximately 1450 AVM cases, all patients with SM Grade I and II lesions were identified. Patients with less than 2 years of radiological follow-up, except those with complete AVM obliteration, were excluded from analysis. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional-hazards and logistic regression analyses were used to determine factors associated with obliteration, radiation-induced changes (RICs), and hemorrhage following radiosurgery. Results. Five hundred two patients harboring low-grade AVMs were eligible for analysis. The median age was 35 years, 50% of patients were male, and the most common presentation was hemorrhage (47%). The median AVM volume and prescription dose were 2.4 cm3 and 23 Gy, respectively. The median radiological and clinical followup intervals were 48 and 62 months, respectively. The cumulative obliteration rate was 76%. The median time to obliteration was 40 months, and the actuarial obliteration rates were 66% and 80% at 5 and 10 years, respectively. Independent predictors of obliteration were no preradiosurgery embolization (p < 0.001), decreased AVM volume (p = 0.005), single draining vein (p = 0.013), lower radiosurgery-based AVM scale score (p = 0.016), and lower Virginia Radiosurgery AVM Scale (Virginia RAS) score (p = 0.001). The annual postradiosurgery hemorrhage rate was 1.4% with increased AVM volume (p = 0.034) and lower prescription dose (p = 0.006) as independent predictors. Symptomatic and permanent RICs were observed in 8.2% and 1.4% of patients, respectively. No preradiosurgery hemorrhage (p = 0.011), a decreased prescription dose (p = 0.038), and a higher Virginia RAS score (p = 0.001) were independently associated with postradiosurgery RICs. Conclusions. Spetzler-Martin Grade I and II AVMs are very amenable to successful treatment with stereotactic radiosurgery. While patient, physician, and institutional preferences frequently dictate the final course of treatment, radiosurgery offers a favorable risk-to-benefit profile for the management of low-grade AVMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Gamma Knife
  • Intracranial arteriovenous malformation
  • Low spetzler-martin grade
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Stroke
  • Vascular disorders
  • Vascular malformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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