Analysis of 30 spinal angiograms falsely reported as normal in 18 patients with subsequently documented spinal vascular malformations

P. Barreras, D. Heck, B. Greenberg, J. P. Wolinsky, Carlos A Pardo-Villamizar, Philippe Gailloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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 falsenegative 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1814-1819
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology

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