Transvenous onyx embolization of carotid-cavernous fistulas: mid- and long-term outcomes


Advocate Aurora Health, Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery and Comprehensive Stroke Center


Objective Endovascular treatment of carotid-cavernous fistulas (CCFs) has been consistently shown to give excellent results and is currently the mainstay of treatment of these complex vascular pathologies. Onyx is currently the most widely used agent, but there has been concern over high rates of cranial nerve (CN) deficits seen in patients with CCF treated with Onyx and paucity of data on long-term outcomes.

Methods This is a retrospective analysis of patients who underwent transvenous Onyx embolization between 2011 and 2018. The data collected included demographics, comorbidities, presenting symptoms, CCF morphology, degree of obliteration, procedure-related complications, clinical outcomes, and follow-up.

Results A total of seven patients (five females) were included. The median age was 66 years (range: 15-79 years). Median duration of symptoms before treatment was 4 weeks (range: 1-24 weeks). There were three direct and four indirect CCFs. Barrow classification is as follows: A-3; B-3; C-0; and D-1. Immediate complete occlusion was achieved in all cases. There was also one case of immediate postoperative change in CN function (new partial CN VI deficit) that resolved completely at 1-month follow-up. The mean length of stay was 3 days (±2). The preoperative extraocular movement CN deficits had the following outcomes: three resolved; two improved; and one persisted. Proptosis, chemosis, conjunctival injection, and tinnitus were resolved in all patients. The median follow-up was 34 months (range: 10-91 months).

Conclusion Transvenous Onyx embolization is a safe and effective treatment of CCFs when technical aspects to reduce complications are performed diligently. Our technique demonstrates safety of the Onyx as a stand-alone embolization for the treatment of CCF

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