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Clinical presentation and treatment of 26 spinal epidural arteriovenous fistulas: a single-center experience.

BACKGROUND: Spinal epidural arteriovenous fistulas (SEDAVFs) are rarely diagnosed vascular malformations that can cause spinal cord compression and congestive myelopathy.

METHODS: This is a single-center, retrospective case series of patients with SEDAVFs who underwent observation or treatment at UCLA medical center between 1993 and 2023.

RESULTS: Between 1993 and 2023 a total of 26 patients at UCLA were found to have a SEDAVF. The median age at treatment was 59 years (range 4 months to 91 years). Compared with sacral, lumbar, and thoracic SEDAVFs, patients with cervical SEDAVF were younger (41 years vs 63 years, P=0.016) and more likely to be female (66.7% vs 14.3%, P=0.006). Possible triggers for development of SEDAVFs may be prior spinal surgery or trauma (n=4), turning the neck (n=1), lifting a heavy box (n=1), a prolonged period of bending over (n=1), and neurofibromatosis type 1 (n=1). Of the 22 patients treated endovascularly, 18 (82%) were angiographically cured on the first attempt without complications. One patient underwent surgical treatment alone and had a failed surgery on the first attempt, and developed a surgical site infection after the second successful attempt at treatment. Of the 16 patients with adequate clinical follow-up, 11 (69%) demonstrated early improved clinical outcome (eg, improved strength on examination, absent bruit).

CONCLUSIONS: SEDAVFs are a rarely diagnosed disease that can be treated effectively and safely with endovascular embolization in most cases. Patients with sacral, lumbar, and thoracic SEDAVFs were older and more often male compared to patients with cervical SEDAVFs.

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