✓ Autologous blood (0.3 to 5.0 ml) was introduced into the lumbar subarachnoid space of nine monkeys. Serial spinal cord arteriography was performed at frequent intervals over a 24-hour period. Magnification techniques permitted direct measurement of the anterior spinal artery and posterior spinal vein. Neither immediate nor delayed spasm was observed in any animal. Similar techniques have routinely produced spasm of intracranial arteries in our laboratory.
John L. Doppman and Mary Girton
John L. Doppman and Mary Girton
✓ Laminectomies were performed in 16 monkeys to decompress simulated acute epidural masses in front of the spinal cord. When decompression restored normal arterial and venous hemodynamics, the monkeys were neurologically intact in spite of considerable mechanical distortion of the cord. When either the anterior spinal artery or the posterior spinal vein remained obstructed following laminectomy, the monkeys were paraplegic. Acute anterior epidural masses larger than 4 mm in diameter could not be adequately decompressed via the posterior approach. Only minor posterior displacement of the cord is observed following laminectomy in the presence of large anterior masses.
John K. B. Afshar, John L. Doppman and Edward H. Oldfield
✓ To establish if interruption of the intradural draining spinal vein or surgical excision are curative treatments for spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), the medical records and radiographic studies of 19 patients with spinal dural AVFs and progressive myelopathy were reviewed. Spinal arteriograms were obtained before and within 2 weeks after surgery in 19 patients, and after a delay of 4 months or more in 11 patients. The mean clinical and arteriographic follow up was at 37 and 35 months, respectively. In the 11 patients who underwent excision of the dural AVF there was no evidence of a residual lesion upon immediate or delayed postoperative arteriography. Surgery in eight patients consisted of simple interruption of the intradural draining vein as it entered the subarachnoid space. In six of these patients the vein draining the AVF intrathecally provided the only venous drainage of the AVF. In these six patients there was no immediate (six of six) or delayed (four of six) arteriographic evidence of residual or recurrent flow through the AVF. Two patients had an AVF with both intra- and extradural venous drainage; after intradural division of the draining vein there was residual flow through the AVF into the extradural venous system. In one of these two patients intrathecal venous drainage was reestablished, which required additional therapy. In the other patient the extradural AVF spontaneously thrombosed and was not evident on delayed follow-up arteriography.
In patients with spinal dural AVFs with only intrathecal medullary venous drainage, which includes most patients with these lesions, surgical interruption of the intradural draining vein provides lasting and curative treatment. In patients with both intra- and extradural drainage of the AVF, complete excision of the fistula or interruption of the intra- and extradural venous drainage of the fistula is indicated. In patients in whom a common vessel supplies the spinal cord and the dural AVF, simple surgical interruption of the vein draining the AVF is the treatment of choice, as it provides lasting obliteration of the fistula and it is the only treatment that does not risk arterial occlusion and cord infarction. Simple interruption of the venous drainage of a spinal dural AVF provides lasting occlusion of the fistula, as it does for cranial dural AVFs, if all pathways of venous drainage are interrupted. This result provides further evidence that the venous approach to the treatment of dural AVFs can be used successfully.
Ian E. McCutcheon, John L. Doppman and Edward H. Oldfield
✓ Although most vascular abnormalities of the spinal cord are now ascribed to an abnormal communication between a dural artery and a medullary vein on the dura near a sensory nerve root, these lesions are too small for their anatomy to be demonstrated directly by spinal arteriography. Thus, it is unknown whether the site of dural arteriovenous shunting is an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), implying a congenital origin, or is a direct arteriovenous fistula (AVF), implying an acquired etiology.
The authors treated six patients by en bloc resection of the involved dural root sleeve, proximal nerve root, and adjacent spinal dura. All of the patients presented with myelopathy and their arteriograms were consistent with a spinal dural vascular malformation. The lesions occurred between T-6 and T-12, levels at which clinical deficits from such resection are minimal. The dural artery or medullary vein associated with the vascular malformation was cannulated and a dilute solution of barium sulfate was injected during sequential fine-grain radiography. In all of the lesions the artery split into daughter vessels that coalesced one to three times to form a skein of arterial loops in the dura that invariably emptied into a medullary vein without an intervening capillary plexus. Several medium-to-small collateral vessels arising from adjacent intercostal or lumbar arteries were commonly present in the dura and converged at the site of the AVF to join a single medullary vein.
These results show that spinal dural AVMs are direct AVFs that link the dural branch of the radiculo-medullarydural artery with the intradural medullary vein. They also provide an anatomical explanation for the presence of a multiple segmental arterial supply and a single draining medullary vein of spinal dural AVFs, and the propensity for reestablishment of flow through the arteriovenous shunt after embolic occlusion.
B. Gregory Thompson, John L. Doppman and Edward H. Oldfield
✓ Cranial dural arteriovenous fistulae (AVF's) of the tentorial incisura or the dura of the middle fossa have a much higher incidence of draining via leptomeningeal veins than do AVF's of the transverse-sigmoid sinuses or the cavernous sinus. Such a drainage pattern is associated with an increased incidence of intracranial hemorrhage and progressive focal neurological deficits. Patients with cranial dural AVF's often undergo surgical excision and/or endovascular embolization for elimination of the AVF. Since these lesions are frequently large and involve the skull base or adjacent dural sinuses, extensive surgery is often required. In contrast, spinal dural AVF's with only intradural venous drainage to the medullary venous system are treated successfully by simply interrupting the vein that drains the dural AVF as it enters the subarachnoid space. The authors identified a subgroup of patients with cranial dural AVF's in whom the AVF was drained only by leptomeningeal veins, and sought to establish whether simple interruption of the vein draining the blood from the AVF into the subarachnoid space is effective and lasting treatment in this subgroup of patients, as it is in patients with spinal dural AVF's.
Four adult patients with symptomatic cranial dural AVF's (two petrotentorial, one middle fossa floor, and one posterior fossa base) were identified on arteriography as having fistulae that were supplied by the internal and/or external carotid arteries and drained only via leptomeningeal veins (two entered the petrosal vein, one a cerebellar hemispheric vein, and one a mesencephalic vein). All patients underwent interruption of the vein draining the dural AVF as it penetrated the dura to enter the subarachnoid space, and experienced neurological improvement after surgery. Repeat arteriography at 1 to 2 weeks (three patients), 3 months (3 patients), 12 to 15 months (three patients), and 4 years (two patients) revealed no residual AVF and no evidence of abnormal blood flow.
Many cranial dural AVF's with leptomeningeal venous drainage (the type with the most aggressive behavior) are drained only by leptomeningeal veins. This subgroup of patients can be identified by selective arteriography and requires only interruption of the draining vein as it enters the subarachnoid space for successful, lasting elimination.
Experimental study in monkeys
John L. Doppman, Mary Girton and Mark A. Popovsky
✓ The posterior spinal vein was occluded with silicone in seven rhesus monkeys, and locally resected in one. There were no neurological findings associated with acute venous obstruction of the cord. Follow-up arteriography revealed diversion of venous outflow into the anterior spinal venous system. Histology revealed gliosis associated with demyelinization confined to the posterior columns.
Walter A. Hall, Edward H. Oldfield and John L. Doppman
✓ Recently, therapeutic embolization has been advocated as the treatment of choice for arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) of the spine. However, no study has established lasting benefit from this procedure or determined the incidence of recanalization, as occurs with cerebral AVM's. In this study, six patients were followed periodically after complete obliteration of their AVM's by particulate embolization was shown by immediate arteriography. The study group included three men (aged 59 to 72 years) with spinal dural arteriovenous (AV) fistulas and three women (aged 27 to 38 years) with intramedullary glomus-type spinal cord AVM's. The patients were treated by embolization with 100- to 1000-µm diameter polyvinyl alcohol particles. Clinical improvement, most commonly manifesting as increased lower-extremity strength, occurred in all patients after embolization. However, recurrent symptoms, including weakness, numbness, and urinary incontinence, occurred within 2 and 8 months in two of the three patients with dural AV fistulas and within 2 months in two of the three patients with glomus AVM's, prompting radiological reevaluation. Spinal arteriography revealed recanalization of the AV fistulas and spinal AVM's in five patients. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging demonstrated a signal-void area caused by intramedullary AVM's. This area disappeared after embolic occlusion, but recurred after delayed recanalization, indicating restored flow through the AVM.
Embolization provides only temporary treatment for many spinal AVM's. After embolic occlusion, delayed reassessment with arteriography and/or MR imaging is indicated, particularly if the symptoms persist or recur. Surgical excision of spinal AVM's provides the only therapeutic means to eliminate flow through the AVM permanently in most patients, and should be considered the treatment of choice when feasible.
Foix-Alajouanine syndrome reconsidered
Gregory R. Criscuolo, Edward H. Oldfield and John L. Doppman
✓ Acute or subacute neurological deterioration without evidence of hemorrhage in a patient with a spinal arteriovenous (AV) malformation has been referred to as “Foix-Alajouanine syndrome.” This clinical entity has been considered to be the result of progressive vascular thrombosis resulting in a necrotic myelopathy; it has therefore been thought to be largely irreversible and hence untreatable. The authors report five patients with dural AV fistulas who presented in this manner, and who improved substantially after embolic and surgical therapy. The outcome of these patients indicates that acute and subacute progression of myelopathy in cases of spinal dural AV fistulas may be caused by venous congestion and not necessarily by thrombosis. Therefore, a clinical diagnosis of Foix-Alajouanine syndrome is of little practical use, as spinal cord dysfunction from venous congestion is a potentially reversible process whereas thrombotic infarction is not. This diagnosis may result in suboptimal management. The recognition of nonhemorrhagic acute or subacute myelopathy as a complication of a spinal dural AV fistula is important since what appears to be irreversible cord injury is often treatable by standard surgical techniques.
Larry C. Fried, John L. Doppman and Giovanni Di Chiro
✓ The direction of blood flow in the cervical spinal cord of monkeys was studied by direct cinematic observation of the results of dye injections, plus separate angiographic studies. The studies indicated that in monkeys blood enters the cervical spinal cord mainly from radicular arteries that are usually derived from branches of the costo-cervical trunk. Although some blood entering at the low cervical level flows toward the thoracic cord, the major component flows up to the C-2 level. The findings cast doubt on the established assumption that the vertebral arteries provide the main blood supply of the cervical cord.
John L. Doppman, Giovanni Di Chiro and Ayub K. Ommaya
✓ A technique is described for embolically occluding the feeding arteries of spinal cord arteriovenous malformations by non-operative means. Following the identification of each feeder by selective arteriography, a system of coaxial catheters is introduced percutaneously and each feeding artery is occluded within the spinal canal using metallic pellets, gelfoam, and muscle fragments. Technical details of the procedure are described and the choice of embolic material discussed. Embolization has been successfully accomplished in five patients. None were made worse, and three have shown progressive neurological improvement. The simplicity of the procedure and the absence of morbidity are stressed. Percutaneous embolization should be considered as an alternative to operative ligation of feeding arteries.