Objective: Spinal cord arteriography (SCA) often has been considered difficult, hazardous, and unreliable. In this report, we question these assumptions.
Patients: From August 1985 to June 2000, a total of 480 patients underwent 487 SCA procedures during diagnostic examination for 498 aneurysms, which included 159 that involved the descending thoracic aorta and 339 that involved the thoracoabdominal aorta. The underlying cause was degenerative disease in 288 cases, chronic dissection in 132 cases, and other causes in 78 cases.
Results: Major procedure-related complications occurred in six patients (1.2%) and included spinal cord complications in two patients, renal complications in two patients, and stroke in two patients. Puncture-site complications occurred in three patients (0.6%). Rupture of the aneurysm occurred within 3 days after SCA in two patients (0.4%). Two deaths (0.4%) were directly imputable to SCA. In 476 patients (97.7%), SCA was devoid of major complications. The Adamkiewicz's artery was successfully located in 419 patients (86.0%) and arose from a left intercostal or lumbar artery in 323 patients (77.1%) and from between T8 and L1 levels in 361 patients (86.2%). On the basis of the extent of identification of spinal cord vasculature, the procedure was considered as a complete success in 321 patients (65.9%), as a partial success in 112 patients (23.0%), and as a failure in 54 patients (11.1%). Although the failure rates were comparable, the complete success rate was significantly higher in patients with degenerative rather than dissecting aneurysms (P <.001) and in patients with limited aneurysms (ie, types 1, 2, and 3 versus type 4 descending thoracic aneurysms, P <.05; and types 3 and 4 versus types 1 and 2 thoracoabdominal aneurysms, P <.001).
Conclusion: SCA is a safe adjunct that warrants more widespread use in the management of descending thoracic or thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms.