Utility of pharmacologic provocative neurological testing before embolization of occipital lobe arteriovenous malformations

Rabih G. Tawk, Ramachandra P. Tummala, Muhammad Z. Memon, Adnan H. Siddiqui, L. Nelson Hopkins, Elad I. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Endovascular treatment is an established option for treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). However, embolization has been associated with postprocedural neurological complications. We sought to evaluate the usefulness of intra-arterial pharmacologic provocative (superselective Wada) testing before embolization of occipital lobe AVMs. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of cases of occipital AVMs that were embolized at our institution (Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital) while the patient was under conscious sedation. Visual field testing was performed before and after superselective Wada testing and again after embolization. After microcatheterization of the target feeding pedicle, amobarbital (or, occasionally, methohexital) was administered, followed immediately by neurological testing. If the provocative test results were negative, the evaluated feeder was embolized with a liquid agent. Complications were categorized as transient or permanent neurological deficit, visual field loss, ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, and death. RESULTS: Thirteen patients with occipital AVMs underwent 39 Wada tests of 34 pedicles before embolization during 26 endovascular treatment sessions. Patients were treated under conscious sedation with local anesthesia. The mean age of these patients was 43.5 years (range 16-62 years); 6 were women. Testing induced a neurological deficit in six patients. A positive test result led us to abort embolization attempts in four pedicles. In the two remaining cases, advancement of the catheter tip distally within the feeding pedicle allowed us to proceed with embolization after initial test failure. Neither patient developed a visual field deficit after embolization. Despite passing the Wada test before embolization, one other patient had a visual deficit that was detected a few hours after the procedure; this deficit lessened but was permanent. No further ischemic complications and no hemorrhagic complications occurred. CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacologic provocative testing is a useful and effective method of determining the safety of occipital AVM embolization. Our results support the performance of these procedures under conscious sedation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-281
Number of pages6
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Conflict of interest statement: Dr. Hopkins receives receive research support from Toshiba; serves as a consultant to Abbott, Boston Scientific, Cordis, Micrus, and W.L. Gore; holds a financial interest in AccessClosure, Boston Scientific, Claret Medical Inc., Micrus, and Valor Medical; has a board/trustee/officer position with AccessClosure, Claret Medical Inc., and Micrus (until September, 2010); belongs to the Abbott Vascular speakers’ bureau; and receives honoraria from Bard, Boston Scientific, Cordis, Memorial Healthcare System, Complete Conference Management, SCAI, and Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Levy receives research grant support (principal investigator: Stent-Assisted Recanalization in acute Ischemic Stroke, SARIS), other research support (devices), and honoraria from Boston Scientific and research support from Codman & Shurtleff, Inc. and ev3/Covidien Vascular Therapies; has ownership interests in Intratech Medical Ltd. and Mynx/Access Closure; serves as a consultant on the board of Scientific Advisors to Codman & Shurtleff, Inc.; serves as a consultant per project and/or per hour for Codman & Shurtleff, Inc., ev3/Covidien Vascular Therapies, and TheraSyn Sensors, Inc.; and receives fees for carotid stent training from Abbott Vascular and ev3/Covidien Vascular Therapies. Dr. Levy receives no consulting salary arrangements. All consulting is per project and/or per hour. Dr. Siddiqui has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health (co-investigator: NINDS 1R01NS064592-01A1 , Hemodynamic induction of pathologic remodeling leading to intracranial aneurysms) and the University at Buffalo (Research Development Award); holds financial interests in Hotspur, Intratech Medical, StimSox, and Valor Medical; serves as a consultant to Codman & Shurtleff, Inc., Concentric Medical, ev3/Covidien Vascular Therapies, GuidePoint Global Consulting, and Penumbra; belongs to the speakers' bureaus of Codman & Shurtleff, Inc. and Genentech; serves on an advisory board for Codman & Shurtleff; and has received honoraria from Abbott Vascular, American Association of Neurological Surgeons' courses, an emergency medicine conference, Genentech, Neocure Group LLC, an Emergency Medicine Conference, and from Abbott Vascular and Codman & Shurtleff, Inc. for training other neurointerventionists in carotid stenting and for training physicians in endovascular stenting for aneurysms. Dr. Siddiqui receives no consulting salary arrangements. All consulting is per project and/or per hour. Dr. Memon, Dr. Tawk, and Dr. Tummala report no financial relationships.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Amobarbital
  • Arteriovenous malformation
  • Embolization
  • Methohexital
  • Occipital lobe
  • Pharmacologic provocative test
  • Superselective Wada test


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