Endovascular embolization represents the method of choice for the treatment of carotid-cavernous fistulas (CCFs).
We report our experience using the endovascular technique in 24 patients harboring 25 CCFs treated between October 1994 and April 2010, with an emphasis on the role of detachable balloons for the treatment of direct CCFs.
Of the 16 patients who presented with direct CCFs (Barrow Type A CCFs) (age range, 7–62 years; mean age, 34.3 years), 14 were caused by traumatic injury and 2 by a ruptured internal carotid artery (ICA) aneurysm. Eight patients (age range, 32–71 years; mean age, 46.5 years) presented with nine indirect CCFs (Barrow Types B, C, and D). The clinical follow-up after endovascular treatment ranged from 2 to 108 months (mean, 35.2 months). In two cases (8%), the endovascular approach failed. Symptomatic complications related to the procedure occurred in three patients (12.5%): transient cranial nerve palsy in two patients and a permanent neurological deficit in one patient. Detachable balloons were used in 13 out of 16 (81.3%) direct CCFs and were associated with a cure rate of 92.3%. Overall, the angiographic cure rate was obtained in 22 out of 25 (88%) fistulas. Patients presenting with III nerve palsy improved gradually between 1 day and 6 months after treatment. Good clinical outcomes [modified Rankin scale (mRS) ≤ 2] were observed in 22 out of 24 (91.6%) patients at last follow-up.
Endovascular treatment using detachable balloons still constitutes a safe and effective method to treat direct carotid-cavernous fistulas.