Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe
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Spinal vascular malformations treatment

What is spinal vascular malformations treatment?

Spinal vascular malformations are abnormal connections between blood vessels near the spinal cord. They can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life. They may occur by themselves or because of a tumour. As a result of these connections, the spinal cord may be deprived of its blood supply, which can cause nerve injury. The aim of the treatment is to block these abnormal connections and to restore normal blood flow to the cord.

How does the procedure work?

The interventional radiologist will place a small 2-3 mm tube inside a blood vessel in your groin. This catheter is then directed into selected arteries that go to the cord. The interventional radiologist will then administer a small amount of contrast so that a picture of the blood supply can be obtained. When the specific blood vessel supplying the vascular malformation (VM) is located, a smaller catheter is inserted. This vessel is then blocked using glue or a small metal coil.

Why perform it?

Patients with symptomatic spinal VMs usually have weakness of movement of legs, which may be progressive. If imaging (MRI or angiogram) reveals a spinal VM then treatment can reverse the symptoms or limit their progression.

What are the risks?

Minor risks include bruising or infection in the cord. Major risks include a further reduction in blood flow to the cord, resulting in weakness or limitations with movement.


1. Lee KH, Park JH, et al. Vascular complications in lumbar spinal surgery: percutaneous endovascular treatment. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol 2000; 23(1):65-69.