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Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations: diagnosis and transcatheter embolotherapy.

The recent long-term studies from England, France, and the Netherlands, as well as our own, indicate that transcatheter embolotherapy is definitive treatment for PAVM. More recently, Puskas et al have questioned transcatheter embolotherapy as a primary treatment for patients with PAVM (4,56). Their opinion was based on two recurrences among five patients treated with transcatheter embolotherapy. It is not clear why one of the late recurrences in the series by Puskas et al happened, and the other recurrence could have been dut to early deflation of the balloon. Nevertheless, we believe that the collective experience in the larger series reporting on transcatheter embolotherapy of PAVM supports the use of embolotherapy as a primary modality of treatment. Because many patients have bilateral pulmonary malformations and many pulmonary malformations will grow with time, repeated surgical intervention is not ideal therapy. The recurrence rate of 8% reported by Remy et al using coils, and 2% reported by Pollak et al using balloons and coils supports our contention that transcatheter embolotherapy is durable and should be the initial treatment. Also, recurrences are easily retreated by transcatheter embolotherapy with durable results (54). We favor detachable balloons over coils for occluding PAVMs because immediate cross-sectional occlusion of the segmental artery is obtained in a position that preserves the most normal branches. The necessity for repeated introduction of coils, when using the coil method, contributes to longer procedure times with an increased risk of air introduction and, in our experience, a greater risk of postprocedure pleurisy. At the same time, we appreciate that approximately 70% of PAVMs can be occluded equally well with balloons or coils. We also believe that coils have unique advantages over balloons in specific anatomic situations including oversized arteries (where coils are the only option) and for occlusion of the aneurysm of a PAVM. As with all forms of embolotherapy, the interventionalist is best served by having more than one option of treatment, which for PAVM includes both balloons and coils. In summary, PAVMs are effectively managed by means of transcatheter embolotherapy. This therapy has been demonstrated to be safe and durable. Careful technique with modifications depending on the angioarchitecture of the PAVM is required. Patients with PAVMs require follow-up at 1 month and 1 year. While observations documenting serial growth of small PAVMs are somewhat limited, there is published evidence to support their growth with time (35,36). Because of these reports and our unpublished observations, we believe that patients with treated PAVM need long-term follow-up every 5 years to detect growth of small PAVMs that will ultimately reach a size where they may cause paradoxical embolization and stroke (1).

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