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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet]. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2003-.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries.

Embolisation therapy for pulmonary arteriovenous malformations

This version published: 2012; Review content assessed as up-to-date: June 06, 2012.

Plain language summary

Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations are abnormal connections between arteries and veins in the lung. They are known to cause serious complications such as stroke, brain abscess, bleeding in the lung and poor oxygenation. Embolisation is the mainstream treatment for pulmonary arteriovenous malformations. During embolisation, balloon or coil embolisation devices, or both combined, are used to block the feeding artery or arteries to the pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. These malformations can often be small, multiple and widely spread out thus not all of them are suitable for embolisation treatment. In this systematic review, we did not identify any randomised controlled trials of embolisation versus surgery or comparing different embolisation devices. While accumulated observational studies have suggested benefits of embolisation, randomised controlled trials are not always feasible on ethical grounds. In the absence of randomised controlled trials, a standardised approach to reporting, as well as long‐term follow‐up through registry studies can help to improve the safety and outcome of embolisation for pulmonary arteriovenous malformations.


Background: Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations are abnormal direct connections between the pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein which result in a right‐to‐left shunt. They are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality mainly from the effects of paradoxical emboli. Potential complications include stroke, cerebral abscess, pulmonary haemorrhage and hypoxaemia. Embolisation is an endovascular intervention based on the occlusion of the feeding arteries the pulmonary arteriovenous malformations thus eliminating the abnormal right‐to‐left‐shunting.

Objectives: To determine the efficacy and safety of embolisation in patients with pulmonary arteriovenous malformations including a comparison with surgical resection and different embolisation devices.

Search methods: We searched the Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group's Trials Register; date of last search: 09 February 2012.

We also searched the following databases: the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry; ClinicalTrials.gov; International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register; International Clinical Trials Registry Platform Search Portal (last searched 15 May 2012).

We checked cross‐references and searched references from review articles.

Selection criteria: Trials in which individuals with pulmonary arteriovenous malformations were randomly allocated to embolisation compared to no treatment, surgical resection or embolisation using a different embolisation device.

Data collection and analysis: Studies identified for potential inclusion were independently assessed for eligibility by two authors, with excluded studies further checked by a third author. No trials were identified for inclusion in the review and hence no analysis was performed.

Main results: There were no randomised controlled trials identified.

Authors' conclusions: There is no evidence from randomised controlled trials for embolisation of pulmonary arteriovenous malformations. However, randomised controlled trials are not always feasible on ethical grounds. Accumulated data from observational studies suggest that embolisation reduces morbidity. A standardised approach to reporting with long‐term follow‐up through registry studies can help to strengthen the evidence for embolisation in the absence of randomised controlled trials.

Editorial Group: Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group.

Publication status: New search for studies and content updated (no change to conclusions).

Citation: Hsu CC‐T, Kwan GNC, Thompson SA, Evans‐Barns H, van Driel ML. Embolisation for pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD008017. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008017.pub3. Link to Cochrane Library. [PubMed: 22895972]

Copyright © 2012 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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