Ethanol embolization of arteriovenous malformations: interim results

Radiology. 2005 May;235(2):674-82. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2352040449.


Purpose: To assess retrospectively the interim results and the complications of ethanol embolization treatment of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained for a retrospective review of patient medical and imaging records. Informed consent was not required by the institutional review board. Written consent for the procedure was obtained from all patients after a discussion about the advantages and risks of the procedure. After a general anesthetic was administered, 40 patients (16 male, 24 female; age range, 9-53 years) with inoperable AVMs in the body and extremities underwent staged ethanol embolizations (range, 1-24; median, 3). Pulmonary artery pressure and arterial blood pressure were monitored as ethanol was injected. Ethanol embolizations (50%-100% ethanol mixed with nonionic contrast material) were performed by using transcatheter and/or direct puncture techniques. Ten patients underwent additional coil deployment during ethanol embolization. Clinical follow-up (range, 2-48 months; mean, 14.6 months; median, 12 months) was performed in all patients, and results from imaging follow-up (range, 0-48 months; mean, 8.4 months; median, 6 months) were available from the last treatment session in 28 patients. Therapeutic outcomes were established by evaluating the clinical outcome of symptoms and signs, as well as the degree of devascularization at follow-up angiography.

Results: One hundred seventy-five ethanol embolizations were performed in 40 patients. Sixteen (40%) of 40 patients were cured, 11 (28%) had partial remission, seven (18%) had no remission, and one (2%) experienced aggravation. Treatment failed in five patients (12%). Ethanol embolization was considered effective (cure, 16 patients; partial remission, 11 patients) in 27 patients (68%). Eleven patients will need further treatment sessions for residual AVMs. Twenty-one patients (52%) experienced complications. Twenty-seven minor complications (skin and transient peripheral nerve injuries) (27 [15%] of 175 procedures) occurred in 18 (45%) of 40 patients. All minor complications were healed with wound dressing and observation. Five major complications (five [3%] of 175 procedures) occurred in five (12%) of 40 patients, and four patients recovered completely.

Conclusion: Ethanol embolization has the potential for cure in the management of AVMs of the body and extremities but with acceptable risk of minor and major complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Angiography*
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / therapy
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / therapy*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral
  • Child
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retreatment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Failure


  • Ethanol