Liquid embolic agents have revolutionized endovascular management of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs). Nonetheless, since 2005, the US FDA has received more than 100 reports of microcatheter breakage or entrapment related to Onyx embolization, including 9 deaths. In 2014, the Apollo detachable-tip microcatheter became the first of its kind available in the US. Since then, few reports on its safety have been published.
The authors conducted a retrospective review of endovascular cases by searching the patient databases at 2 tertiary cerebrovascular centers (Barrow Neurological Institute and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Patients who underwent endovascular embolization of an AVM or AVF using the Apollo microcatheter were identified. Patient demographics and lesion characteristics were collected. The authors analyzed Apollo-specific endovascular variables, such as number of microcatheterizations, sessions, and pedicles embolized; microcatheter tip detachment status; obliteration rate; and endovascular- and microcatheter-related morbidity and mortality.
From July 2014 to October 2016, a total of 177 embolizations using the Apollo microcatheter were performed in 61 patients (mean age 40.3 years). The most frequent presentation was hemorrhage (22/61, 36.1%). Most lesions were AVMs (51/61, 83.6%; mean diameter 30.6 mm). The mean Spetzler-Martin grade was 2.4. Thirty-nine (76.5%) of 51 patients with AVMs underwent resection. Microcatheterization was successful in 172 pedicles. Most patients (50/61, 82%) underwent a single embolization session. The mean number of pedicles per session was 2.5 (range 1–7). Onyx-18 was used in 103 (59.9%), N-butyl cyanoacrylate (NBCA) in 44 (25.6%), and Onyx-34 in 25 (14.5%) of the 172 embolizations. In 45.9% (28/61) of the patients, lesion obliteration of 75% or greater was achieved. Tip detachment occurred in 19.2% (33/172) of microcatheters. Fifty-three (86.9%) of the 61 patients who underwent embolization with the Apollo microcatheter had good functional outcomes (modified Rankin Scale score 0–2). No unintended microcatheter fractures or related morbidity was observed. One patient died of intraprocedural complications unrelated to microcatheter selection. In the univariate analysis, microcatheter tip detachment (p = 0.12), single embolized pedicles (p = 0.12), and smaller AVM nidus diameter (p = 0.17) correlated positively with high obliteration rates (> 90%). In the multivariate analysis, microcatheter tip detachment was the only independent variable associated with high obliteration rates (OR 9.5; p = 0.03).
The use of the Apollo detachable-tip microcatheter for embolization of AVMs and AVFs is associated with high rates of successful catheterization and obliteration and low rates of morbidity and mortality. The microcatheter was retrieved in all cases, even after prolonged injections in distal branch pedicles, often with significant reflux. This study represents the largest case series on the application of the Apollo microcatheter for neurointerventional procedures.
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