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Microvascular decompression of a vertebral artery loop causing cervical radiculopathy: illustrative case

Alexa Semonche, Lorenzo Rinaldo, Young Lee, Todd Dubnicoff, Harlan Matles, Dean Chou, Adib Abla, and Edward F Chang

BACKGROUND

Vertebral artery loops are a rare cause of cervical radiculopathy. Surgical options for nerve root decompression include an anterior or posterior approach, with or without additional microvascular decompression.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe a case of a 49-year-old man with a long-standing history of left-sided neck pain and migraines, who was found to have a vertebral artery loop in the left C3–4 neural foramen compressing the left C4 nerve root. The patient underwent a posterior cervical decompression with instrumented fusion and macrovascular decompression of the left C4 nerve root via Teflon felt insertion. In a literature review, we identified 20 similar cases that had also been managed surgically.

LESSONS

Although the anterior approach is more frequently described in the literature, a posterior approach for nerve compression by a vertebral artery loop is also a safe and effective treatment. The authors report the third case of this surgical approach with a good outcome.

Open access

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistula masquerading as a herniated disc: illustrative case

Moustafa A. Mansour, Dyana F. Khalil, Soliman El-Sokkary, Mostafa A. Mostafa, and Ahmad A. Ayad

BACKGROUND

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistula (SDAVF) is a rare disorder with an unknown etiology. Often, the clinical presentation and imaging findings are misleading, causing this condition to be mistaken for other entities, such as demyelinating or degenerative spinal lesions.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report a challenging case of SDAVF in which the patient’s symptoms were initially thought to be attributable to a herniated disc based on his imaging studies at another institution. He sought the authors for a second opinion, which yielded a confirmed diagnosis of SDAVF. Due to his rapidly progressive neurological manifestations, he underwent a surgical division of the fistula using intraoperative video angiography via indocyanine green injections. His symptoms progressively improved over a 3-month period. He regained full sphincter control by 4 months, which gave him a better recovery than seen in other patients with SDAVFs, who do not generally fully regain sphincter control.

LESSONS

SDAVF is a critical spinal vascular pathology that should not be overlooked in the differential diagnosis of any patient presenting with signs of progressive myelopathy. Despite its associated vague initial clinical symptoms, SDAVF typically, but not always, demonstrates a characteristic imaging appearance on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies; therefore, MR angiography is still required for definitive diagnosis. Surgical treatment for SDAVF is almost always definitive and curative.