Vascular Malformations of Spine

Spinal cord vascular malformations are abnormal connections between arteries and veins in the spinal column due to absence of small blood vessels or capillaries. This causes abnormal flow of blood.

Spinal vascular malformations include the malformations of the spinal cord, vertebral bodies, the tissue around the spinal cord & the spine, the bones of the spine or a combination of these. They are serious medical issues that can even result in paralysis if left untreated.

Vascular Malformations of Spine

The disorders include:

  • Spinal arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
  • Dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVF)
  • Spinal hemangiomas
  • Cavernous angiomas
  • Cavernous malformations
  • Aneurysms

Cause of Vascular malformations

Although the specific cause of these congenital abnormalities is not known, but following reasons may cause vascular malformations:

  • Congenital abnormalities of blood vessels occur in younger patient population
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Increased venous pressure
  • Progressive damage to the spinal cord
  • Trauma in older population

Symptoms of Vascular malformations

Some of the spinal cord vascular malformations are congenital while some develop later in life. They show following symptoms either acutely or may take several years to appear:

  • Either loss of sensations or abnormal sensations such as numbness or tingling
  • Sudden onset of pain in back, neck or leg
  • Extreme weakness in the upper or lower extremity
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Progressive neurological deficits
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Photosensitivity or intolerance of bright light
  • Paralysis
  • Pain radiating down the legs

Diagnosis of Vascular malformations

The diagnosis of malformations requires complete history of the patient and a thorough physical and neurological examination. This along with following diagnostic tests helps the physician to appropriately treat the abnormality:

  • MRI
  • Myelography
  • Spinal angiography