Objective: To determine if elective, angiographically directed embolization of enlarged renal angiomyolipomas can be used to prevent future hemorrhagic episodes in patients with tuberous sclerosis and thus avoid nephrectomy.
Patients and methods: Records were reviewed for all 5 patients who underwent elective, subtotal embolization of large, symptomatic angiomyolipomas at the authors' institution between 1975 and 1996.
Results: All 5 patients had tuberous sclerosis and bilateral renal angiomyolipomas. Initial embolization in these patients was performed in 1975, 1981, 1993 (2 patients) and 1994. In 1 patient only a single embolization session was required. In another, initial embolization on the left side was followed by embolization on the right 13 months later. Two patients underwent 2 sessions, and 1 patient had 4 sessions over a 13-year period. Subtotal embolization with particulate material led to a decrease in size of the most severely affected portion of the kidney. One large angiomyolipoma underwent sterile liquefaction after embolization; percutaneous catheter drainage was required. The embolization allowed subsequent partial nephrectomy in this patient.
Conclusion: Embolization is effective for the long-term management of renal angiomyolipomas in patients with tuberous sclerosis; in this way nephrectomy and loss of renal function can usually be avoided.