Reconstruction of the ligated external carotid artery for embolization of cervicofacial arteriovenous malformations

Thomas S. Riles, Alejandro Berenstein, Frederick S. Fisher, Mark S. Persky, Mary Madrid

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23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Until recently, the accepted management of life-threatening complications of unresectable cervicofacial arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) has been ligation of the major feeding vessels, usually the branches or the main trunk of the external carotid artery. Rapid enlargement of collateral vessels around the ligature is usually associated with an early return of symptoms. Percutaneous transcatheter embolization of the nidus of the arteriovenous malformation is now the preferred treatment for symptomatic AVMs that cannot be excised. Previous ligation of the main feeding vessels prevents catheter access and embolization therapy of the lesion. The purpose of this report is to describe our experience with the treatment of patients with symptomatic unresectable cervicofacial AVMs and previous external carotid artery ligation. Methods: Six patients with symptoms from cervicofacial arteriovenous malformations required surgical reconstruction of their previously ligated external carotid artery with the anticipation of catheter embolization therapy to the branch vessels feeding the malformation. Saphenous vein was used in five reconstructions; a polytetrafluoroethylene graft was used in one. Results: After successful arterial reconstruction, massive swelling of the tongue and perioral tissue developed in two patients, which necessitated tracheostomy in one patient; and embolization therapy before extubation could be safely performed in the other patient. In all, four patients underwent successful embolization therapy. One refused subsequent treatment. In one patient with severe epistaxis, external carotid artery revascularization led to the healing of the nasal ulcers without need for embolization therapy. Conclusions: For patients with previous ligations of the external carotid artery and symptomatic AVMs, revascularization of the external carotid artery is an important step in treatment. The surgery must be carefully coordinated with the interventional radiologist for possible emergency postoperative embolization therapy. External carotid artery ligation only complicates the treatment of patients with cervicofacial AVMs, and should no longer be used in the treatment of these individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-498
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes


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