Long-term outcomes of pediatric arteriovenous malformations: The 30-year Pittsburgh experience

Michael M. McDowell, Nitin Agarwal, Gordon Mao, Stephen Johnson, Hideyuki Kano, L. Dade Lunsford, Stephanie Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE The study of pediatric arteriovenous malformations (pAVMs) is complicated by the rarity of the entity. Treatment choice has often been affected by the availability of different modalities and the experience of the providers present. The University of Pittsburgh experience of multimodality treatment of pAVMs is presented. METHODS The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study examining 212 patients with pAVM presenting to the University of Pittsburgh between 1988 and 2018, during which patients had access to surgical, endovascular, and radiosurgical options. Univariate analysis was performed comparing good and poor outcomes. A poor outcome was defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of ≥ 3. Multivariate analysis via logistic regression was performed on appropriate variables with a p value of ≤ 0.2. Seventy-five percent of the cohort had at least 3 years of follow-up. RESULTS Five patients (2.4%) did not receive any intervention, 131 (61.8%) had GKRS alone, 14 (6.6%) had craniotomies alone, and 2 (0.9%) had embolization alone. Twenty-two (10.4%) had embolization and Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS); 20 (9.4%) had craniotomies and GKRS; 8 (3.8%) had embolization and craniotomies; and 10 (4.7%) had embolization, craniotomies, and GKRS. Thirty-one patients (14.6%) were found to have poor outcome on follow-up. The multivariate analysis performed in patients with poor outcomes was notable for associations with no treatment (OR 18.9, p = 0.02), hemorrhage requiring craniotomy for decompression alone (OR 6, p = 0.03), preoperative mRS score (OR 2.1, p = 0.004), and Spetzler-Martin score (OR 1.8, p = 0.0005). The mean follow-up was 79.7 ± 62.1 months. The confirmed radiographic obliteration rate was 79.4% and there were 5 recurrences found on average 9.5 years after treatment. CONCLUSIONS High rates of long-term functional independence (mRS score of = 2) can be achieved with comprehensive multimodality treatment of pAVMs. At this center there was no difference in outcome based on treatment choice when accounting for factors such as Spetzler-Martin grade and presenting morbidity. Recurrences are rare but frequently occur years after treatment, emphasizing the need for long-term screening after obliteration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Craniotomy
  • Embolization
  • Gamma Knife radiosurgery
  • Hemorrhage
  • Outcomes
  • Pediatric
  • Vascular disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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