Paraplegia after tethered cord surgery: an uncommon combined anomaly of spinal arteriovenous fistula and sacral lipoma--case report

Neurosurgery. 2005 Sep;57(3):E598; discussion E598. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000171028.96829.69.


Objective and importance: The coexistence of spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM) with congenital abnormalities is relatively common. However, the association of a spinal AVM and lipoma is rare. We present an adult patient with this combined anomaly and discuss the clinical relevance of this case.

Clinical presentation: A 42-year-old Caucasian man with progressive paraparesis initially underwent surgery for a tethered spinal cord. Postoperatively, he became paraplegic. He improved gradually over an interval of 8 months and, at that point, worsened again. Subsequent angiographic study revealed a spinal dural arteriovenous fistula located at S1-S2. Additionally, an occipital dural AVM was discovered near the transverse sinus.

Intervention: The spinal arteriovenous fistula was excised along with the sacral lipoma. The occipital arteriovenous fistula was embolized successfully at a later time.

Conclusion: The patient had immediate improvement in sensory symptoms after surgery. At a 9 month follow-up examination, he had regained the ability to walk with crutches, but his bladder dysfunction persisted. Recognition of co-existing vascular anomalies, such as spinal AVMs, is important in patients with tethered cords. The mechanisms involved in this patient's worsening neurological condition after release of the tethered cord are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / complications*
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / pathology
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / surgery
  • Cerebral Angiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy / adverse effects*
  • Lipoma / complications*
  • Lipoma / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Paraplegia / etiology*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / surgery
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / surgery