Management of hemorrhagic complications from preoperative embolization of arteriovenous malformations

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  • 1 Division of Neuroradiology, Department of Radiology, and Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
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✓ Endovascular embolization procedures have undergone dramatic evolution and improvement in recent years. Despite these advances, controversy remains regarding the optimal role of these procedures in treating cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) and whether their purpose should be as a presurgical adjunct or as primary therapy. This controversy risks fragmentation between disciplines in the broader efforts to improve management of cerebrovascular disorders.

The authors report seven cases of life-threatening hemorrhages that occurred during staged invasive therapy for AVM's which illustrate the value of a unified team approach to optimize patient care. Each patient underwent at least one embolization procedure using polyvinyl alcohol particles, followed in two cases by the occlusion of proximal feeding vessels by platinum microcoils and in one case by the attempted detachment of an endovascular balloon. In three patients, catheter penetration into the subarachnoid space resulted in subarachnoid hemorrhage. One patient suffered rupture of a large feeding vessel during balloon inflation. The final three patients sustained intracranial hemorrhage 2 hours, 8 hours, and 5 days, respectively, following embolization. All but two patients underwent emergency craniotomy at the time of the complication. These cases underscore the advantages of interdisciplinary management optimizing decision-making and providing expeditious care when life-threatening complications develop.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Phillip Purdy, M.D., Department of Radiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75235.
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