Purpose: To assess long-term clinical and imaging results of technically successful pulmonary arteriovenous malformation (AVM) embolization.
Materials and methods: One hundred fifty-five patients with pulmonary AVMs underwent embolization during a period of 3 years. Recommended follow-up included clinical assessment, helical computed tomography, and physiologic evaluation within 1 year and then every 5 years.
Results: Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia was present in 148 patients (95%). Four hundred fifteen pulmonary AVMs were occluded during 205 procedures. Clinical follow-up was available in all patients over 3-7 years and imaging follow-up was available in 144 patients (393 lesions) over 1-7 years (mean, 2.9 y). Problems related to pulmonary AVMs occurred in 35 patients (23%) at 42 time points: 22 patients with 23 symptomatic events and 17 patients with 19 asymptomatic events. Symptoms resulted from growth of nonembolized pulmonary AVMs (n = 19), residual embolized pulmonary AVMs (n = 5), or both (n = 2). Symptoms consisted of respiratory manifestations (n = 13), cerebral ischemia (n = 4), brain abscess (n = 5), hemoptysis (n = 3), and seizure (n = 1). Imaging showed pulmonary AVM involution in 97% of embolized lesions and 11 residual lesions (2.8%) in 10 patients (6.9%). These were caused by recanalization (n = 7), presence of an accessory feeding artery (n = 1), pulmonary collateral vessels (n = 1), and bronchial collateral vessels (n = 2). CT detected 10 of the 11 residual lesions. Imaging detected 97 previously small pulmonary AVMs that had enlarged to a significant size in 28 patients (18%), 15 of whom were symptomatic and 13 of whom were asymptomatic.
Conclusions: Clinical and anatomic evaluation after pulmonary AVM embolization is important to detect persistent or reperfused lesions and enlarging lesions, with the latter more common. Patients with persistent, reperfused, or enlarging lesions often have symptoms, but a significant minority of patients are asymptomatic. More frequent assessment may improve detection before the onset of symptoms.