Successful treatment of a group of spinal cord arteriovenous malformations by interruption of dural fistula

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  • 1 Surgical Neurology Branch, NINCDS, and Diagnostic Radiology Department, the Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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✓ As demonstrated by selective spinal cord arteriography, over 80% of spinal cord arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) occupy a predominantly extramedullary position. Current therapy frequently requires surgical stripping of the long dorsal intradural vessel(s) from the underlying spinal cord over many cord segments. The authors report six patients with a dural arteriovenous fistula fed by a cluster of abnormal epidural arteries. These vessels, which surrounded and were embedded into the dural covering of a thoracic nerve root, drained into a long sinuous intrathecal paramedullary vein(s). The angiographic and surgical appearance of the intradural component of these lesions was identical to that of lesions previously classified as Type I AVM's of the spinal cord. All patients had symptoms and signs of myelopathy. In five patients, surgery was limited to coagulation and excision of the extradural vessels and division of the intradural arterialized vein. Progressive improvement began within days following surgery. No residual abnormality was demonstrated by postoperative selective spinal cord arteriography, which was performed in all five patients.

The findings support those of Kendall and Logue, that surgery restricted to elimination of the arteriovenous fistula at the intervertebral foramen is curative, and that more extensive surgery is unnecessary for this subgroup of AVM's of the spinal cord. These lesions comprise a sizable percent of all spinal AVM's. Resolution of myelopathy in these patients supports the hypothesis that venous hypertension causes chronic progressive myelopathy.

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Contributor Notes

Address for Dr. Quindlen: Department of Neurosurgery, South Alabama Medical Center, Mobile, Alabama.

Address for Dr. Rieth: Department of Radiology, George Washington University Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Address reprint requests to: Edward H. Oldfield, M.D., Surgical Neurology Branch, NINCDS, Building 10A, Room 3E68, Bethesda, Maryland 20205.
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