AV Fistula Embolization

AV (arteriovenous fistula) embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that involves injecting a substance into the arteries within the brain that lead to an arteriovenous fistula (AVF). The goal is to block blood flow to the affected area or fill the fistula to prevent ruptures.

An AVF is an abnormal passageway between an artery and a vein. They can be congenital or acquired as the result of a trauma. AVFs can be recognized by an abnormal sound heard through a stethoscope called a bruit. The bruit is caused by turbulent blood flow between the artery and the vein. 

When is this procedure recommended?

Arteriovenous fistula (AVF) embolization is a recommended treatment option for AVFs to provide early relief of symptoms, potentially lead to a cure, and reduce the risk of hemorrhage.

How is the procedure performed?

An angiography is completed first to locate the AV fistula. During the procedure, the interventional radiologist inserts a catheter through the groin into the brain's arteries that lead to the AVF, and then injects a glue-like liquid into the arteries. This injection shuts off the artery and reduces blood flow through the AVF.  

The catheter is usually inserted into the femoral artery in the front of the hip, and then guided by X-ray imaging as it is moved to the fistula location. The fistula is then plugged with a material such as a balloon, glue, or metal coil to correct the abnormal blood flow pattern.

What are the benefits?

  • Treatment of complex AVFs with many feeding and draining vessels, where surgery is more difficult.
  • Embolization is a good option for treating AVFs that are close to critical anatomy that could be very risky with surgery
  • Embolization techniques help preserve normal venous structures


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