Object: Successful therapeutic embolization of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) of the brain with liquid polymers (glues) requires precise knowledge of highly variable AVM structure and flow velocities and transit times of blood through the AVM nidus. The goal of this study was to improve AVM flow measurement and visualization by the substitution of the insoluble Ethiodol (ethiodized oil) contrast agent for the soluble contrast media normally used in angiographic studies.
Methods: Before enbucrilate embolization of 24 AVM feeding pedicles in 13 patients, standard contrast medium was superselectively injected into each target pedicle, followed by infusion of 20 microl of Ethiodol microdroplets. Transport of contrast material was assessed using high-speed biplane pulsed digital subtraction angiography (DSA) operating at 15 frames per second. The mean blood flow transit times through AVMs after administration of Ethiodol were found to be approximately half as long as in those measured after injection of soluble contrast materials (0.22 +/- 0.10 seconds compared with 0.46 +/- 0.19 seconds [mean +/- standard deviation]; p < 0.0001). The discrete Ethiodol microdroplets travel with the core flow, more closely approximating the dynamic behavior of enbucrilate, allowing the AVM structure to be traced with high spatial and temporal resolution. There were no inadvertent vessel occlusions or pulmonary complications related to the use of Ethiodol for DSA.
Conclusions: Because of diffusion and convection, forces that decrease concentration, visualization of the contrast front is reduced, often resulting in deceptively long transit times when soluble contrast materials are used. Overestimation may prove dangerous when planning embolizations. The Ethiodol droplet DSA method provides accurate transit time measurements and precise, detailed, and dynamic AVM visualization. Further development of this method will improve the safety and precision of AVM treatments.