Critical assessment of the morbidity associated with ruptured cerebral arteriovenous malformations

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An accurate understanding of the morbidity and mortality associated with brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) hemorrhage is important in determining the management of unruptured AVMs. Recent studies suggest this morbidity to be lower than assumed. We sought to perform a detailed critical assessment of the morbidity associated with ruptured brain AVMs.


A retrospective chart review from a single-center tertiary care medical center was performed. Inclusion criteria were patients admitted with intracranial hemorrhage caused by a previously untreated AVM. Forty variables were analyzed including patient demographics, imaging findings, clinical course, and clinical examinations.


From 2008 to 2013, of the 51 patients who fit our inclusion criteria, we found admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores of 0, 1–9, and ≥10 in 22%, 24%, and 55%, respectively. Hematoma location was parenchymal in 33%, intraventricular in 10%, subarachnoid in 4%, and combined in 53%. Deep venous drainage was present in 35% of cases and associated aneurysms were present in 37%. 43% underwent emergency hematoma evacuation while four patients died during their admission. Of those who survived, 74% had neurologic deficits upon discharge (NIHSS ≥1), with 25.5% of patients having a severe deficit (NIHSS ≥10). On follow-up, 55% were independent in their daily activities of living.


Our assessment of morbidity associated with brain AVM rupture is higher than previously assumed and reported. These results should be further validated in a larger, more representative sample. An accurate understanding of the morbidity associated with AVM rupture is important as more patients with unruptured brain AVMs seek consultation.

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