Are antiplatelets and anticoagulants safe and beneficial in people with cavernomas?

Long-term antithrombotic therapy and risk of intracranial haemorrhage from cerebral cavernous malformations: a population-based cohort study, systematic review, and meta-analysis.

Zuurbier SM, Hickman CR, Tolias CS, et al; Scottish Audit of Intracranial Vascular Malformations Steering Committee.

Lancet Neurol 2019; 18:935-941.



Antithrombotic (anticoagulant or antiplatelet) therapy is withheld from some patients with cerebral cavernous malformations, because of uncertainty around the safety of these drugs in such patients. We aimed to establish whether antithrombotic therapy is associated with an increased risk of intracranial haemorrhage in adults with cerebral cavernous malformations.


In this population-based, cohort study, we used data from the Scottish Audit of Intracranial Vascular Malformations, which prospectively identified individuals aged 16 years and older living in Scotland who were first diagnosed with a cerebral cavernous malformation during 1999-2003 or 2006-10. We compared the association between use of antithrombotic therapy after first presentation and the occurrence of intracranial haemorrhage or persistent or progressive focal neurological deficit due to the cerebral cavernous malformations during up to 15 years of prospective follow-up with multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression assessed in all individuals identified in the database. We also did a systematic review and meta-analysis, in which we searched Ovid MEDLINE and Embase from database inception to Feb 1, 2019, to identify comparative studies to calculate the intracranial haemorrhage incidence rate ratio according to antithrombotic therapy use. We then generated a pooled estimate using the inverse variance method and a random effects model.


We assessed 300 of 306 individuals with a cerebral cavernous malformation who were eligible for study. 61 used antithrombotic therapy (ten [16%] of 61 used anticoagulation) for a mean duration of 7·4 years (SD 5·4) during follow-up. Antithrombotic therapy use was associated with a lower risk of subsequent intracranial haemorrhage or focal neurological deficit (one [2%] of 61 vs 29 [12%] of 239, adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0·12, 95% CI 0·02-0·88; p=0·037). In a meta-analysis of six cohort studies including 1342 patients, antithrombotic therapy use was associated with a lower risk of intracranial haemorrhage (eight [3%] of 253 vs 152 [14%] of 1089; incidence rate ratio 0·25, 95% CI 0·13-0·51; p<0·0001; I2=0%).


Antithrombotic therapy use is associated with a lower risk of intracranial haemorrhage or focal neurological deficit from cerebral cavernous malformations than avoidance of antithrombotic therapy. These findings provide reassurance about safety for clinical practice and require further investigation in a randomised controlled trial.


See also

Bervini D, Jaeggi C, Mordasini P, Schucht P, Raabe A. Antithrombotic medication and bleeding risk in patients with cerebral cavernous malformations: a cohort study. J Neurosurg 2018; doi: 10.3171/2018.1.JNS172547 (Epub ahead of print).

Both papers are cited in the neurochecklist:

Cerebral cavernous malformations (cavernomas): clinical features

Abstract link 1

Abstract link 2

By Karlo J Lizarraga and Antonio AF De Salles –, CC BY 2.5, Link

By Ibrahim Imam

I am a UK Neurologist keen on general neurology, but with an interest in neuromuscular diseases. I maintain the neurology searchable database, I also blog at I share and discuss current issues around clinical neurology. I hope you find my blogs enlightening, practical, and even entertaining.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s