A 15-year-old boy underwent neuroradiologic embolization of the left internal maxillary artery with polyvinyl alcohol to stop traumatic epistaxis after failure of surgical clipping and nasal packing. Selective catheterization of the external carotid artery before embolization showed a faint choroidal blush. Although the procedure provided hemostasis, embolization to the central retinal artery and ciliary arteries resulted in loss of vision. The route of the emboli to the eye was via the anastomotic network of the lacrimal artery supplied by the external carotid artery system. Neuroradiologic embolization of the external carotid artery is an effective mode of therapy for dural-cavernous fistulas when fed by the external carotid artery system. Because the blood flow to the brain and eye is predominantly supplied by the internal carotid artery, embolization of the external carotid artery is considered relatively safe. The authors document the importance of recognition of the choroidal blush during selective external carotid artery angiography as a sign of collateral blood flow to the eye. Physicians and patients need to be aware of the risk of blindness as a complication of external carotid artery embolization when this sign is present.
ASJC Scopus subject areas