Cavernous malformations: Natural history, diagnosis and treatment

Sachin Batra, Doris Lin, Pablo F. Recinos, Jun Zhang, Daniele Rigamonti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cavernous malformations (CMs) consist of dilated vascular channels that have a characteristic appearance on MRI. CMs are usually found intracranially, although such lesions can also affect the spinal cord. Individuals with CMs can present with epilepsy and focal neurological deficits or acute intracranial hemorrhage. In many cases, however, patients with such lesions are asymptomatic at diagnosis. Furthermore, several natural history studies have documented that a substantial proportion of asymptomatic CMs follow a benign course. Surgical resection is recommended for CMs that require intervention. Radiosurgery has been advocated for many lesions that have not been easily accessible by conventional surgery. The outcomes of radiosurgery and surgery for deep lesions, however, vary widely between studies, rendering treatment recommendations for such CMs difficult to make. In addition to reviewing the literature, this article will discuss the current understanding of lesion pathophysiology and explore the controversial issues in the management of CMs, such as when to use radiosurgery or surgery in deep-seated lesions, the treatment of epilepsy, and the safety of anticoagulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-670
Number of pages12
JournalNature Reviews Neurology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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