Delayed treatment of ruptured brain AVMs: is it ok to wait?

J Neurosurg 128:999–1005, 2018

Despite a hemorrhagic presentation, many patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) do not require emergency resection. The timing of definitive management is not standardized in the cerebrovascular community. This study was designed to evaluate the safety of delaying AVM treatment in clinically stable patients with a new hemorrhagic presentation. The authors examined the rate of rehemorrhage or neurological decline in a cohort of patients with ruptured brain AVMs during a period of time posthemorrhage.

METHODS Patients presenting to the authors’ institution from January 2000 to December 2015 with ruptured brain AVMs treated at least 4 weeks posthemorrhage were included in this analysis. Exclusion criteria were ruptured AVMs that required emergency surgery involving resection of the AVM, prior treatment of AVM at another institution, or treatment of lesions within 4 weeks for other reasons (subacute surgery). The primary outcome measure was time from initial hemorrhage to treatment failure (defined as rehemorrhage or neurological decline as a direct result of the AVM). Patientdays were calculated from the day of initial rupture until the day AVM treatment was initiated or treatment failed.

RESULTS Of 102 ruptured AVMs in 102 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 7 (6.9%) failed the treatment paradigm. Six patients (5.8%) had a new hemorrhage within a median of 248 days (interquartile range 33–1364 days). The total “at risk” period was 18,740 patient-days, yielding a rehemorrhage rate of 11.5% per patient-year, or 0.96% per patient-month. Twelve (11.8%) of 102 patients were found to have an associated aneurysm. In this group there was a single (8.3%) new hemorrhage during a total at-risk period of 263 patient-days until the aneurysm was secured, yielding a rehemorrhage risk of 11.4% per patient-month.

CONCLUSIONS It is the authors’ practice to rehabilitate patients after brain AVM rupture with a plan for elective treatment of the AVM. The present data are useful in that the findings quantify the risk of the authors’ treatment strategy. These findings indicate that delaying intervention for at least 4 weeks after the initial hemorrhage subjects the patient to a low (< 1%) risk of rehemorrhage. The authors modified the treatment paradigm when a high-risk feature, such as an associated intracranial aneurysm, was identified.