Safety and outcomes of preoperative embolization of intracranial hemangioblastomas: A systematic review

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2016 Nov:150:143-151. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2016.09.008. Epub 2016 Sep 19.


Introduction: While preoperative embolization is often reserved for large and highly vascular tumors in order to minimize blood loss, its safety and efficacy in the treatment of hemangioblastomas (HB) is unclear. We present the largest systematic review focusing on the safety and outcome of preoperative embolization of intracranial HB.

Materials and methods: To identify all cases of preoperative embolization for HB, a literature search was conducted via Medline (OVID and PubMed), Scopus, Embase, and Web of Science. Studies that were in English, included intracranial hemangioblastomas treated with preoperative embolization and provided sufficient disaggregated clinical data for each patient were included. Historical control patients with non-embolized intracranial HB undergoing resection were similarly identified.

Results: A total of 111 patients that underwent preoperative embolization of HB prior to planned resection were identified. Patient age ranged from 12 to 72 years, with a cohort of 63% males and 36% females. Nine studies comprising 392 non-embolized patients were included as controls. Gross total resection was achieved in 83.7% of embolized and 95.6% of non-embolized patients. Intraoperative blood transfusion was required in 15.3% of embolized and 0.51% of non-embolized controls, while rates of post-operative hemorrhage were 8.4% and 1.6%, respectively. Complication rates from embolization were 11.7% and following consequent surgery were 20.7%.

Discussion: Embolization did not increase rates of gross total resection, decrease estimated blood loss, or decrease incidence of complications. Not only does embolization fail to mitigate surgical risks, the embolization procedure itself carries significant risk for complications. Embolization should not be standard of care for intracranial HB.

Keywords: Embolization; Hemangioblastoma; Intracranial; Surgery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / mortality
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / surgery
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Child
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Female
  • Hemangioblastoma / mortality
  • Hemangioblastoma / surgery
  • Hemangioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Young Adult