Endovascular treatment of brain arteriovenous malformations with prolonged intranidal Onyx injection technique: long-term results in 350 consecutive patients with completed endovascular treatment course

J Neurosurg. 2011 Jul;115(1):78-88. doi: 10.3171/2011.2.JNS09830. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Object: The purpose of this study was to present the authors' clinical experience and long-term angiographic and clinical follow-up results in 350 patients with brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) treated using prolonged intranidal Onyx injection with a very slow "staged" reflux technique described by the authors.

Methods: Three hundred and fifty consecutive patients with brain AVMs treated using Onyx between 1999 and 2008 and in whom definitive status for endovascular treatment was reached are presented. There were 206 (59%) male and 144 (41%) female patients, with a mean age of 34 years. There were 607 endovascular sessions performed. Onyx was the only agent used for intranidal injections in all patients, but in 42 patients high-concentration N-butyl cyanoacrylate glue was used adjunctively to close high-flow direct arteriovenous intra- or perinidal fistulas, or when a feeding vessel or nidus perforation and/or dissection occurred.

Results: Angiographically confirmed obliteration was achieved in 179 patients (51%) with only endovascular treatment; 1 patient died due to intracranial hemorrhage after the treatment. Twenty-two patients underwent resection, and 136 patients were sent to radiosurgery after endovascular treatment. In 4 patients embolization therapy was discontinued, and 5 additional patients refused the suggested complementary surgery. In all 178 surviving patients who had angiographically confirmed AVM obliteration by embolization alone, 1-8 years of control angiography (mean 47 months) confirmed stable obliteration, except for 2 patients in whom a very small recruitment was noted in the 1st year on control angiography studies, despite initial apparent total obliteration (recanalization rate 1.1%). In the entire series, 5 patients died; the mortality rate was 1.4%. The permanent morbidity rate was 7.1%.

Conclusions: With the prolonged intranidal injection technique described herein, Onyx allows the practitioner to achieve higher rates of anatomical cures compared with the cure rates obtained previously with other embolic agents. More importantly, due to this technique's much more effective intranidal penetration, it allows high-grade AVMs to be made radiosurgically treatable in a group of patients for whom there has been no treatment alternative.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / drug therapy*
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebral Arteries / abnormalities
  • Cerebral Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Arteries / drug effects*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Cyanoacrylates / administration & dosage
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / administration & dosage*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / adverse effects
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / adverse effects
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polyvinyls / administration & dosage*
  • Polyvinyls / adverse effects
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cyanoacrylates
  • Onyx copolymer
  • Polyvinyls
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide