Objective: To report our experience with the treatment of brain arteriovenous malformations (AVM) with microsurgical resection after embolization with Onyx liquid embolic agent (eV3, Irvine, CA).
Methods: Between August 2005 and December 2006, 28 patients were treated by the same surgical-endovascular team. Twenty-eight AVMs were embolized preoperatively in 55 sessions (71 pedicles) with Onyx. We analyzed the AVM size, volume, number of embolization sessions, degree of preoperative obliteration, time to embolization and resection after the bleed, intraprocedural complications, intraoperative blood loss, other complications, and postoperative outcome at 6 months. Technical nuances of the embolization and surgical resection of the embolized AVMs are illustrated in illustrative cases.
Results: The average size and volume of AVMs treated with Onyx were 3.56 cm (largest, 7.6 cm), and 13.03 ml, respectively. The average Spetzler-Martin grade was 2.75. The average preoperative volumetric obliteration was 74.1%. The average blood loss during resection of embolized AVMs was 348 ml. Complications related to embolization were stuck microcatheter (two patients), proximal vessel perforation (one patient), and anterior choroidal territory stroke (one patient). Surgical complications included wound infection (one patient), residual AVM nidus (one patient), normal pressure perfusion breakthrough with worsening of neurological deficit caused by embolization (one patient), and new-onset motor deficits in five patients. At the time of the 6-month follow-up examination, four patients with new-onset motor deficits had recovered completely or nearly completely, and one patient was disabled. One patient died, never recovering from the initial poor condition due to the bleed. Pathological examination of resected AVMs showed angionecrosis in 42.9%, foreign body giant cells in 39.3%, and evidence of recanalization of Onyx-embolized vessels in 14.3% of specimens.
Conclusion: Multimodality treatment with microsurgery is safe and effective after embolization with Onyx. High occlusion rates and low complication rates were observed after Onyx embolization and were comparable to those in previous reports. Superselective intranidal or perinidal catheter positions and slow, controlled injections that protect the draining veins make the therapy safe even in complex AVMs and critical locations. We recommend resection of the AVM despite apparently complete embolization with Onyx. Team work and coordination between the surgeon and the interventional neuroradiologist are important to achieve a good outcome.