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Intractable epistaxis: transantral ligation vs. embolization: efficacy review and cost analysis.

After posterior nasal packing, the two most common therapies for intractable epistaxis are transantral ligation of the internal maxillary artery and percutaneous embolization of the distal internal maxillary artery. However, optimal management of intractable posterior epistaxis remains controversial. We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 21 patients treated for intractable epistaxis and obtained data on presentation, risk factors, treatment, success rates, complications, and cost. Twelve patients received percutaneous embolization, five underwent transantral ligation, and four required both. The success rates for transantral ligation and percutaneous embolization were 89% and 94%, respectively. No mortality or serious morbidity occurred with either technique. A cost comparison revealed that transantral ligation was moderately less expensive than percutaneous embolization ($5941 vs. $6783). Although some authors advocate transantral ligation or percutaneous embolization as the procedure of choice for intractable epistaxis, a direct comparison of efficacy and cost reveals that they are comparable procedures with specific strengths and weaknesses. We present our experience and a review of the literature, highlighting the indications and advantages of each technique. We conclude that the choice of treatment modality should be based on the benefits of each procedure as it pertains to the specific needs of the individual patient.

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