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, C. A. Pardo, P. Gailloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


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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