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Management of arteriovenous malformations: a multidisciplinary approach.

BACKGROUND: Management of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) remains challenging because of their unpredictable behavior and high recurrence rate. A multidisciplinary approach based on a new classification scheme and improved diagnostic techniques may improve their management. The purpose of this study was to review our experience with combined embolotherapy, sclerotherapy (embolo/sclerotherapy), and surgical procedures to manage AVMs.

METHODS: A total of 797 patients with congenital vascular malformations (January 1995 through December 2001) was investigated with noninvasive studies. Once an AVM was diagnosed, all underwent angiographic confirmation as a roadmap for treatment. Embolo/sclerotherapy and surgical procedures were instituted by the multidisciplinary team with periodic follow-up per protocol. Seventy-six patients with AVMs were reviewed retrospectively to assess the diagnosis and management by a multidisciplinary approach.

RESULTS: Seventy-six (9.5% of all CVM) patients had AVMs, mostly infiltrating, extratruncular form (61/76). Embolo/sclerotherapy with various combinations of absolute ethanol, N-butyl cyanoacrylate (NBCA), contour particles, and coils were used in 48 patients. Sixteen patients with surgically accessible localized lesions completed preoperative embolism and sclerotherapy through 24 sessions, with subsequent surgical excision with minimal morbidity. Interim results were excellent, with no evidence of recurrence in all 16 patients with a mean follow-up of 24 months. Thirty-two patients with surgically inaccessible lesions (infiltrating) were treated with embolism and sclerotherapy alone. There were nine failures in a total of 171 sessions. Interim results with a mean of 19 months' follow-up of embolism and sclerotherapy alone were excellent in the majority (25/32) and good to fair among the rest (7/32). However, 31 complications, mostly minor (27/31), occurred in 30 sessions. Four major complications occurred, including facial nerve palsy, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and massive necrosis of an ear cartilage.

CONCLUSIONS: Diagnosis and management of AVMs by a multidisciplinary approach that integrates surgical therapy with embolism and sclerotherapy appears to improve the results and management with limited morbidity and no recurrence during early follow-up.

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