Acute neurological deterioration develops paradoxically in some patients after obliteration of a spinal dural arteriovenous fistula (SDAVF), with thrombosis of the spinal cord veins as its primary cause. The authors aimed to clarify the clinical and radiological characteristics of acute deterioration to identify high-risk patients. They also discussed the optimal treatment for this complication.
Ten patients with SDAVF presenting with congestive myelopathy who received microsurgical interruption were retrospectively reviewed. Severe myelopathy developed in three patients on postoperative days 1 to 3. Anticoagulation therapy was effective; however, discontinuing anticoagulants under residual spinal cord congestion caused redeterioration. These patients were characterized by significantly extended transit time on angiography and significant prolongation of spinal cord congestion. Acute deterioration exhibited a strong correlation with transit time (coefficient, 0.825; p = 0.006) and a strong correlation with spinal cord edema before surgery (coefficient, 0.656; p = 0.040).
Acute deterioration after SDAVF treatment is likely to develop in patients with severe venous outflow impairment. Its pathology is prolonged spinal cord congestion caused by postoperative venous thrombosis and preexistent severe venous outflow impairment. Anticoagulation treatment should be continued for patients with acute deterioration until the resolution of spinal cord congestion is confirmed with magnetic resonance imaging.