The role of preoperative embolization for intracranial meningiomas

J Neurosurg. 2013 Aug;119(2):364-72. doi: 10.3171/2013.3.JNS121328. Epub 2013 Apr 12.


Object: As endovascular techniques have become more advanced, preoperative embolization has become an increasingly used intervention in the management of meningiomas. To date, however, no consensus has been reached on the use of this technique. To clarify the role of preoperative embolization in the management of meningiomas, the authors conducted a systematic review of case reports, case series, and prospective studies to increase the current understanding of the management options for these common lesions and complications associated with preoperative embolization.

Methods: A PubMed search was performed to include all relevant studies in which the management of intracranial meningiomas with preoperative embolization was reported. Immediate complications of embolization were reported as major (sustained) or minor (transient) deficits, death, or no neurological deficits.

Results: A total of 36 studies comprising 459 patients were included in the review. Among patients receiving preoperative embolization for meningiomas, 4.6% (n = 21) sustained complications as a direct result of embolization. Of the 21 patients with embolization-induced complications, the incidence of major complications was 4.8% (n = 1) and the mortality rate was 9.5% (n = 2).

Conclusions: Preoperative embolization is associated with an added risk for morbidity and mortality. Preoperative embolization may be associated with significant complications, but careful selection of ideal cases for embolization may help reduce any added morbidity with this procedure. Although not analyzed in the authors' study, embolization may still reduce rates of surgical morbidity and mortality and therefore may still have a potential benefit for selected patients. Future prospective studies involving the use of preoperative embolization in certain cases of meningiomas may further elucidate its potential benefit and risks.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Humans
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Meningioma / surgery
  • Meningioma / therapy*
  • Preoperative Care*