Computational fractal-based analysis of brain arteriovenous malformation angioarchitecture

Antonio Di Ieva*, Marzia Niamah, Ravi J. Menezes, May Tsao, Timo Krings, Young Bin Cho, Michael L. Schwartz, Michael D. Cusimano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Neuroimaging is the gold standard for diagnosis and follow-up of brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs), but no objective parameter has been validated for the assessment of the nidus angioarchitecture and for prognostication following treatment. The fractal dimension (FD), which is a mathematical parameter able to quantify the space-filling properties and roughness of natural objects, may be useful in quantifying the geometrical complexity of bAVMs nidus. OBJECTIVE: To propose FD as a neuroimaging biomarker of the nidus angioarchitecture, which might be related to radiosurgical outcome. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 54 patients who had undergone stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of bAVMs. The quantification of the geometric complexity of the vessels forming the nidus, imaged in magnetic resonance imaging, was assessed by means of the box-counting method to obtain the fractal dimension. RESULTS: FD was found to be significantly associated with the size (P =.03) and volume (P <.001) of the nidus, in addition to several angioarchitectural parameters. A nonsignificant association between clinical outcome and FD was observed (area under the curve, 0.637 [95% confidence interval, 0.49-0.79]), indicative of a potential inverse relationship between FD and bAVM obliteration. CONCLUSION: In our exploratory methodological research, we showed that the FD is an objective computer-aided parameter for quantifying the geometrical complexity and roughness of the bAVM nidus. The results suggest that more complex bAVM angioarchitecture, having higher FD values, might be related to decreased response to radiosurgery and that the FD of the bAVM nidus could be used as a morphometric neuroimaging biomarker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Angioarchitecture
  • Arteriovenous malformation
  • Fractal dimension
  • Gamma knife radiosurgery
  • Image biomarker
  • Neuroimaging
  • Outcome


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