Thalamic cavernous malformations

Eugenio Pozzati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Only few anecdotal reports and small series of thalamic cavernous malformations have been reported. It follows that the clinical behavior and management are poorly understood; in particular, experiences with the surgical treatment of these lesions are scarce. METHODS: The clinical course, treatment, and outcome of 12 patients (10 females and 2 males, mean age 36 years) with symptomatic cavernous malformations of the thalamus are reviewed. Eight patients (66%) presented with cerebral hemorrhage, one with progressive neurological deficit and three with hydrocephalus/increased intracranial pressure; associated venous anomalies were found in three cases. Treatment consisted of radical surgery in four cases with progressive neurological decline or recurrent disabling hemorrhage, radiosurgery (one case), evacuation of a chronic satellite hematoma (one case), ventriculoperitoneal shunt for hydrocephalus (one case) and observation (five cases). Operative treatment in four cases included transcallosal, trigonal, and occipital interhemispheric approaches. RESULTS: In the surgical group, one patient died, two improved after operation, and one remained the same. Of the patients not operated on radically, one had recurrent hemorrhage 4 months after radiosurgery, one remains stable 8 years after ventriculoperitoneal shunt, and one 3 years after aspiration of a satellite hematoma. Five other patients presenting with thalamic hemorrhage were treated conservatively; recurrent hemorrhage occurred in two cases at 1 month and at 2 years, leaving a mild residual deficit in both cases. Overall, rehemorrhage occurred in four cases (50%) at a mean interval of 18 months after the first bleeding; the annual hemorrhage rate was 6.1%. CONCLUSIONS: Thalamic malformations are more likely to be symptomatic from small hemorrhages compared with lesions in the cerebral hemispheres; progressive growth may also occur with third ventricle invasion or caudal extension to the midbrain. Their high-risk location deters heavy-handed management, but they should not be left long untreated. Both surgery and radiosurgery have been used in the management of thalamic cavernomas reported in the literature. Definite surgical indications include progressive neurological decline and recurrent hemorrhages of malformations abutting the ventricular surface or the posterior incisural space; the complex anatomy of the deep venous system and the association with unexpected venous anomalies complicates the removal of these lesions. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-40
Number of pages11
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


  • Cavernous angioma
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Microsurgery
  • Radiosurgery
  • Thalamus
  • Venous angioma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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