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Overview of the current concepts in the management of arteriovenous malformations of the brain


Background There is a lack of consensus in the management of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) of the brain since ARUBA (A Randomised trial of Unruptured Brain Arteriovenous malformations) trial showed that medical management is superior to interventional therapy in patients with unruptured brain AVMs. The treatment of brain AVM is associated with significant morbidity.

Objectives and methods A review was done to determine the behaviour of brain AVMs and analyse the risks and benefits of the available treatment options. A search was done in the literature for studies on brain AVMs. Descriptive analysis was also done.

Results The angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor and inflammatory cytokines are involved in the growth of AVMs. Proteinases such as matrix metalloproteinase-9 contribute to the weakening and rupture of the nidus. The risk factors for haemorrhage are prior haemorrhage, deep and infratentorial AVM location, exclusive deep venous drainage and associated aneurysms. The advancements in operating microscope and surgical techniques have facilitated microsurgery. Stereotactic radiosurgery causes progressive vessel obliteration over 2–3 years. Endovascular embolisation can be done prior to microsurgery or radiosurgery and for palliation.

Conclusions Spetzler-Martin grades I and II have low surgical risks. The AVMs located in the cerebellum, subarachnoid cisterns and pial surfaces of the brainstem can be treated surgically. Radiosurgery is preferable for deep-seated AVMs. A combination of microsurgery, embolisation and radiosurgery is recommended for deep-seated and Spetzler-Martin grade III AVMs. Observation is recommended for grades IV and V.

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