Analysis of 30 Spinal Angiograms Falsely Reported as Normal in 18 Patients with Subsequently Documented Spinal Vascular Malformations

Fellows’ Journal Club

Eighteen patients with 19 lesions underwent a total of 30 negative spinal angiograms. The lesions included 9 epidural arteriovenous fistulas, 8 dural arteriovenous fistulas, and 2 perimedullary arteriovenous fistulas. Seventeen patients underwent endovascular (11) or surgical (6) treatment, with a delay ranging between 1 week and 32 months; the Aminoff-Logue score improved in 76.5%. Causes of the inadequate results included: 1) lesion angiographically documented but not identified (55.6%); 2) region of interest not documented (29.6%); or 3) level investigated but injection technically inadequate (14.8%). All the angiograms falsely reported as normal were caused by correctible, operator-dependent factors.

Abstract

Figure 3 from paper
60-year-old man (patient 5) with a right T4 SDAVF and 1 prior negative angiogram. The patient consulted for a second opinion after substantial clinical pejoration during intravenous steroid therapy. A, DSA, right T4 injection, posteroanterior view, arterial phase (first study). A midline vessel (arrows) was noted but interpreted as being the anterior spinal artery. B, DSA, right T4 injection, posteroanterior view, arterial phase (second study). A right T4 radiculomeningeal branch (white arrowhead) supplies an arteriovenous shunt draining into a posterior radiculomedullary vein (black arrowhead) and the posterior-median spinal vein (black arrows).

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The early diagnosis of spinal vascular malformations suffers from the nonspecificity of their clinical and radiologic presentations. Spinal angiography requires a methodical approach to offer a high diagnostic yield. The prospect of false-negative studies is particularly distressing when addressing conditions with a narrow therapeutic window. The purpose of this study was to identify factors leading to missed findings or inadequate studies in patients with spinal vascular malformations.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The clinical records, laboratory findings, and imaging features of 18 patients with spinal arteriovenous fistulas and at least 1 prior angiogram read as normal were reviewed. The clinical status was evaluated before and after treatment by using the Aminoff-Logue Disability Scale.

RESULTS

Eighteen patients with 19 lesions underwent a total of 30 negative spinal angiograms. The lesions included 9 epidural arteriovenous fistulas, 8 dural arteriovenous fistulas, and 2 perimedullary arteriovenous fistulas. Seventeen patients underwent endovascular (11) or surgical (6) treatment, with a delay ranging between 1 week and 32 months; the Aminoff-Logue score improved in 13 (76.5%). The following factors were identified as the causes of the inadequate results: 1) lesion angiographically documented but not identified (55.6%); 2) region of interest not documented (29.6%); or 3) level investigated but injection technically inadequate (14.8%).

CONCLUSIONS

All the angiograms falsely reported as normal were caused by correctible, operator-dependent factors. The nonrecognition of documented lesions was the most common cause of error. The potential for false-negative studies should be reduced by the adoption of rigorous technical and training standards and by second opinion reviews.

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Analysis of 30 Spinal Angiograms Falsely Reported as Normal in 18 Patients with Subsequently Documented Spinal Vascular Malformations
jross
Jeffrey Ross • Mayo Clinic, Phoenix

Dr. Jeffrey S. Ross is a Professor of Radiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and practices neuroradiology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. His publications include over 100 peer-reviewed articles, nearly 60 non-refereed articles, 33 book chapters, and 10 books. He was an AJNR Senior Editor from 2006-2015, is a member of the editorial board for 3 other journals, and a manuscript reviewer for 10 journals. He became Editor-in-Chief of the AJNR in July 2015. He received the Gold Medal Award from the ASSR in 2013.