Background: The purpose of this study was to determine whether the artery of Adamkiewicz (ARM) can be detected by magnetic resonance angiography and to determine the usefulness of preoperative magnetic resonance angiography evaluation of the ARM.
Methods: Between April 2000 and December 2003, 120 patients underwent magnetic resonance angiography for detection of the ARM. The morphology of the anterior spinal artery at the ARM junction, as revealed by magnetic resonance angiography, in 99 patients in whom ARM was preoperatively detected was classified into the following three types: noncontinuation of the anterior spinal artery above the ARM junction (type A), continuation of the anterior spinal artery above and below the ARM junction (type B), and noncontinuation of the anterior spinal artery below the ARM junction (type C).
Results: The ARMs were detected in 99 (83%) of 120 patients, and from a total of 110 ARMs 105 (95%) originated from intercostal arteries branching from the left side and 94 (86%) originated between Th9 and Th11. Two ARMs were found in 11 (11%) of 99 patients in whom ARMs were detected. In 107 patients, who underwent magnetic resonance angiography to reveal the morphology of the anterior spinal artery at the ARM junction, the patterns of the anterior spinal artery were type A in 59 patients (55%), type B in 21 patients (20%), type C in 3 patients (3%) and not classified in 24 patients (22%). No spinal cord injury occurred in patients in whom the ARM had been preoperatively detected.
Conclusions: Preoperative detection of the ARM is possible by magnetic resonance angiography and is very useful for reducing the incidence of ischemic injury of the spinal cord.