Spetzler-Martin Grade III Arteriovenous Malformations: A Multicenter Propensity-Adjusted Analysis of the Effects of Preoperative Embolization

Joshua S. Catapano, Fabio A. Frisoli, Candice L. Nguyen, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Neil Majmundar, Tyler S. Cole, Jacob F. Baranoski, Alexander C. Whiting, Helen Kim, Andrew F. Ducruet, Felipe C. Albuquerque, Daniel L. Cooke, Robert F. Spetzler, Michael T. Lawton

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12 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Spetzler-Martin (SM) grade III arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are at the boundary of safe operability, and preoperative embolization may reduce surgical risks. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the benefits of preoperative AVM embolization by comparing neurological outcomes in patients with grade III AVMs treated with or without preoperative embolization. METHODS: All microsurgically treated grade III AVMs were identified from 2011 to 2018 at 2 medical centers. Neurological outcomes, measured as final modified Rankin Scale scores (mRS) and changes in mRS from preoperative baseline to last follow-up evaluation, were compared in patients with and without preoperative embolization. RESULTS: Of the 102 patients with grade III AVMs who were treated microsurgically, 57 (56%) underwent preoperative embolization. Significant differences were found between the patients with and without embolization in AVM eloquence (74% vs 93%, P =. 02), size ≥ 3 cm (47% vs 73%, P =. 01), diffuseness (7% vs 22%, P =. 04), and mean final mRS (1.1 vs 2.0, P =. 005). Poor outcomes were more frequent in patients without embolization (38%) than with embolization (7%) (final mRS > 2; P <. 001). Propensity-adjusted analysis revealed AVM resection without embolization was a risk factor for poor outcome (mRS score > 2; odds ratio, 4.2; 95% CI, 1.1-16; P =. 03). CONCLUSION: Nonembolization of SM grade III AVMs is associated with an increased risk of poor neurological outcomes after microsurgical resection. Preoperative embolization of intermediate-grade AVMs selected because of large AVM size, surgical inaccessibility of feeding arteries, and high flow should be employed more often than anticipated, even in the context of increasing microsurgical experience with AVMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)996-1002
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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