RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: Various materials have been used to perform intracerebral and cervical arterial embolization for head and neck tumors and vascular malformations. This preliminary prospective study was designed to analyze the clinical and histopathologic consequences of arterial embolization into the brain using biodegradable starch microspheres. METHODS: A new arterial embolization procedure which ensured the integrity of the common and internal carotid arteries, without modifying the arterial flow, was designed. The procedure allowed for cerebral arterial microembolization in 20 Sprague-Dawley rats. Various amounts of biodegradable starch microspheres (Spherex) were introduced into the brain via the left external carotid artery. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Clinical and histopathologic results suggested that: 1) consequences of cerebral embolization using biodegradable starch microspheres are related to the amount of material embolized; and 2) Spherex microspheres behave differently from degradable microspheres in the brain. Despite the rapid biodegradability of the material, permanent damage from ischemia to the brain was noted.
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