Ultrasound diagnosis and management of acquired uterine enhanced myometrial vascularity/arteriovenous malformations

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Arteriovenous malformation is a short circuit between an organ's arterial and venous circulation. Arteriovenous malformations are classified as congenital and acquired. In the uterus, they may appear after curettage, cesarean delivery, and myomectomy among others. Their clinical feature is usually vaginal bleeding, which may be severe, if curettage is performed in unrecognized cases. Sonographically on 2-dimensional grayscale ultrasound scanning, the pathologic evidence appears as irregular, anechoic, tortuous, tubular structures that show evidence of increased vascularity when color Doppler is applied. Most of the time they resolve spontaneously; however, if left untreated, they may require involved treatments such as uterine artery embolization or hysterectomy. In the past, uterine artery angiography was the gold standard for the diagnosis; however, ultrasound scanning has diagnosed successfully and helped in the clinical management. Recently, arteriovenous malformations have been referred to as enhanced myometrial vascularities.

OBJECTIVES:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of transvaginal ultrasound scanning in the diagnosis and treatment of acquired enhanced myometrial vascularity/arteriovenous malformations to outline the natural history of conservatively followed vs treated lesions.

METHODS:

This was a retrospective study to assess the presentation, treatment, and clinical pictures of patients with uterine Enhanced myometrial vascularity/arteriovenous malformations that were diagnosed with transvaginal ultrasound scanning. We reviewed both (1) ultrasound data (images, measured dimensions, and Doppler blood flow that were defined by its peak systolic velocity and (2) clinical data (age, reproductive status, clinical presentation, inciting event or procedure, surgical history, clinical course, time intervals that included detection to resolution or detection to treatment, and treatment rendered). The diagnostic criteria were “subjective” with a rich vascular network in the myometrium with the use of color Doppler images and “objective” with a high peak systolic velocity of ≥20 cm/sec in the vascular web. Statistical analysis was performed and coded with statistical software where necessary.

RESULTS:

Twenty-seven patients met the diagnostic criteria of uterine enhanced myometrial vascularity/arteriovenous malformation. Mean age was 31.8 years (range, 18-42 years). Clinical diagnoses of the patients included 10 incomplete abortions, 6 missed abortions, 5 spontaneous complete abortions, 5 cesarean scar pregnancies, and 1 molar pregnancy. Eighty-nine percent of patients had bleeding (n = 24/27), although 1 patient was febrile, and 2 patients were asymptomatic. Recent surgical procedures were performed in 55.5% patients (15/27) that included curettage (n = 10), cesarean deliveries (n = 5), or both (n = 1); 4 patients had a remote history of uterine surgery that included myomectomy. Treatment was varied and included expectant treatment alone in 48% of the patients with serial ultrasound scans and serum human chorionic gonadotropin until resolution (n = 13/27 patients), uterine artery embolization (29.6%; 8/27 patients), methotrexate administration (22.2%; 6/27 patients), hysterectomy (7.4%; 2/27 patients), and curettage (3.7%; 1/27 patients). Three patients required a blood transfusion. Of the 9 patients whose condition required embolization, the conditions of 7 patients resolved after the procedure although 1 patient's condition required operative hysteroscopy and 1 patient's condition required hysterectomy for intractable bleeding. Average peak systolic velocity after embolization in the 9 patients was 85.2 cm/sec (range, 35-170 cm/sec); the average peak systolic velocity of the 16 patients with spontaneous resolution was 58.5 cm/sec (range, 23-90 cm/sec).

CONCLUSIONS:

Acquired enhanced myometrial vascularity/arteriovenous malformations occurred after unsuccessful pregnancies or treatment procedures that included uterine curettage, cesarean delivery, or cesarean scar pregnancy. Triage of patients for expectant treatment vs intervention with uterine artery embolization based on their clinical status, which was supplemented by objective measurements of blood velocity measurement in the arteriovenous malformation, appears to be a good predictor of outcome. Ultrasound evaluation of patients with early pregnancy failure and persistent bleeding should be considered for evaluation of a possible enhanced myometrial vascularity/arteriovenous malformation.

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