Antithrombotic Therapy in Cerebral Cavernous Malformations: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Network Meta-Analysis

Basel Musmar, Hamza Salim, Jihad Abdelgadir, Samantha Spellicy, Nimer Adeeb, Ali Zomorodi, Allan Friedman, Issam Awad, Pascal M. Jabbour, David M. Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cerebral cavernous malformations are complex vascular anomalies in the central nervous system associated with a risk of intracranial hemorrhage. Traditional guidelines have been cautious about the use of antithrombotic therapy in this patient group, citing concerns about potential bleeding risk. However, recent research posits that antithrombotic therapy may actually be beneficial. This study aims to clarify the association between antithrombotic therapy, including antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications, and the risk of intracranial hemorrhage in patients with cerebral cavernous malformations. METHODS AND RESULTS: A comprehensive literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus data-bases, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Nine single-center, nonran-domized cohort studies involving 2709 patients were included. Outcomes were analyzed using random-effects model, and a network meta-analysis was conducted for further insight. Of the 2709 patients studied, 388 were on antithrombotic therapy. Patients on antithrombotic therapy had a lower risk of presenting with intracranial hemorrhage (odds ratio [OR], 0.56 [95% CI, 0.45–0.7]; P<0.0001). In addition, the use of antithrombotic therapy was associated with lower risk of intracranial hemorrhage from a cerebral cavernous malformation on follow-up (OR, 0.21 [95% CI, 0.13–0.35]; P<0.0001). A network meta-analysis revealed a nonsignificant OR of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.23–2.56) when antiplatelet therapy was compared with anticoagulant therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Our study explores the potential benefits of antithrombotic therapy in cerebral cavernous malformations. Although the analysis suggests a possible role for antithrombotic agents, it is critical to note that the evidence remains prelimi-nary. Fundamental biases in study design, such as ascertainment and assignment bias, limit the weight of our conclusions. Therefore, our findings should be considered hypothesis-generating and not definitive for clinical practice change.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere032910
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - 19 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • CCM
  • antithrombotic
  • cerebral cavernous malformation
  • intracranial hemorrhage


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