Brain capillary telangiectasias: from normal variants to disease

Anthony S. Larson, Kelly D. Flemming, Giuseppe Lanzino, Waleed Brinjikji

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Brain capillary telangiectasias (BCTs) are small, dilated capillary networks in the brain that are most commonly asymptomatic. Though rare, symptomatic cases of BCTs have been reported, and it is therefore important to understand the nature of these lesions in order to facilitate proper recognition. Relative to other intracranial vascular malformations, updated information on the various epidemiologic, radiographic, and pathologic features of BCTs within the published literature may be inadequate. Methods: We searched the PubMed database for prior reports of symptomatically-manifested BCTs. Moreover, Google Scholar and PubMed were searched in order to review current epidemiologic, radiographic, pathologic, and pathogenetic features of BCTs. Results: Forty-eight published studies were included for a total of 99 individual cases of BCTs with symptomatic manifestations. Thirty-three symptomatic BCTs were hemorrhagic in nature, while 66 were non-hemorrhagic. The mean age at presentation of hemorrhagic lesions was 25.5 years, and the most common location was the supratentorial CNS (54.5%) with motor disturbance representing the most commonly encountered presenting symptom (26.1%). 15.2% of hemorrhagic lesions were treated with surgical removal. In non-hemorrhagic lesions, the mean age at presentation was 39.8 years with the pons being the most common lesion location (78.5%) and headache being the most common presenting symptom (22.2%). 12.1% of patients with non-hemorrhagic lesions were treated with surgical removal. Conclusions: Despite their rarity, symptomatic BCTs, both hemorrhagic and non-hemorrhagic, can cause devastating neurological sequelae, potentially through multiple mechanisms. The large majority of these lesions do not require intervention, though surgical removal has been achieved with good outcome in select cases. Further documentation of symptomatic manifestations with or without surgical intervention is vital in order to further understand the clinical, surgical, and pathogenic implications of these less-appreciated vascular malformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1101-1113
Number of pages13
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Brain
  • Capillary telangiectasia
  • Hemorrhage
  • Intracerebral
  • Symptomatic
  • Vascular malformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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