Ethanol endovascular management of brain arteriovenous malformations: initial results

Neurosurgery. 1997 Jun;40(6):1145-52; discussion 1152-4. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199706000-00005.


Objective: The goal was to determine the safety and efficacy of absolute ethyl alcohol treatment in the management of intra-axial brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

Methods: Seventeen patients (eight female and nine male patients; mean age, 41 yr) underwent ethanol endovascular therapy for treatment of their brain AVMs. Superselective amytal testing preceded all procedures. Neuroleptic intravenous anesthesia was used for 16 patients, and general anesthesia was used for 1 patient. Follow-up monitoring consisted of clinical evaluations, magnetic resonance imaging, and arteriography.

Results: In follow-up evaluations (mean follow-up period, 13 mo) after embolization of brain AVMs, neither vascular recanalization nor the neovascular recruitment phenomenon was observed in any patient. Progressive AVM thrombosis at arteriographic follow-up evaluation was a constant feature. Seven patients were cured of their AVMs with ethanol endovascular therapy alone. Three patients were cured of their lesions with ethanol embolization plus surgical resection. One patient was cured of his lesion with ethanol embolization and radiation therapy of the residual nidus. Three patients underwent only partial therapy, with significant improvement in symptoms. Three patients are currently undergoing ethanol endovascular therapy. Complications occurred with 8 of 17 patients, most of which were transient. Two patients died because of late subarachnoid hemorrhages, one patient 4 months and one patient 14 months after partial therapy.

Conclusion: Progressive and permanent AVM occlusion is a common finding in arteriographic follow-up evaluations. In no patients did arterial recanalization or the neovascular recruitment phenomenon occur. Our initial results indicate that ethanol has a permanence that is seldom encountered with other embolic agents. With aggressive decadron therapy, the complications related to swelling in the brain are largely reversible.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / mortality
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ethanol