Natural History of Spinal Cord Cavernous Malformations

Neurosurgery 90:390–398, 2022

The natural history of spinal cord cavernous malformations (SCCMs) remains relatively unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the natural history for hemorrhagic risks and neurological outcomes, as well as relevant predicting factors, of SCCMs.

METHODS: All patients between 2002 and 2019 with diagnosis of SCCMs were identified retrospectively. An observational study of patients with conservative management was performed to reveal the natural history of SCCMs.

RESULTS: We identified 305 patients in the full cohort, including 126 patients who were conservatively treated for at least 6 months (median observational period, 24.0 months). Forty-five hemorrhage events occurred during 527 person-years of follow-up, yielding an annual hemorrhage rate of 8.5% per person-year. The 1-, 2-, and 5-year cumulative risks of hemorrhage were 13.9%, 26.1%, and 35.1%, respectively. Prior hemorrhage (hazard ratio [HR] = 12.948, P = .012) and pediatric patients (HR = 2.841, P = .031) were independent predictors of hemorrhage in the long-term follow-up. Familial form (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 30.695, P = .010) and subsequent hemorrhage events (adjusted OR = 16.333, P = .000) were independent risk factors for worsening of neurological function, and baseline neurological status (adjusted OR = 78.984, P = .000) and presence of subsequent hemorrhage (adjusted OR = 9.611, P = .001) were significantly associated with neurological outcomes.

CONCLUSION: The natural history of SCCMs varies. Baseline characteristics, such as pediatric patients, familial form, and baseline neurological status, as well as prior and subsequent hemorrhagic events, significantly affect the natural history of the SCCMs, which prompts a differentiated treatment strategy.