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OBJECTIVE: We sought to analyze the results of embolization in patients with intradural spinal cord arteriovenous shunts.

METHODS: The clinical and radiological files of 69 of a population of 155 patients treated with embolization between 1981 and 1999 were reviewed retrospectively. The patients' clinical status was evaluated according to Karnofsky Performance Scale score. Twenty-one (14%) of 155 patients were treated surgically because they were thought to be poor candidates for embolization. Twenty-four (15%) of 155 patients were considered untreatable with surgery or embolization; in these patients, follow-up was proposed, but only 8 of them were followed appropriately and remained stable after the first consultation. Forty-one (26%) of 155 patients consulted our group, but no follow-up could be obtained. In 69 (45%) of 155 patients, comprising 20 children and 49 adults, endovascular treatment was performed with the patients under general anesthesia and without provocative tests, mainly with acrylic glue, in 99% of these patients.

RESULTS: The mean number of diagnostic and therapeutic sessions was 3.5 per patient, and the mean number of pure therapeutic sessions was 1.5 per patient. Follow-up ranged between 6 months and 18 years (mean, 5.6 yr). In 16% of patients, anatomic obliteration of spinal cord arteriovenous shunts was obtained. Embolization reduced more than 50% of the spinal cord arteriovenous shunts in 86% of cases. No recanalization was noted on follow-up angiograms. Good clinical outcomes were obtained in 83% of the patients: 15% of them were asymptomatic, 43% were improved, and 25% were stable. In 4% of patients, embolization failed to stabilize the disease. Transient deficits were seen after embolization in 14% of the patients, and permanent severe complications occurred in 4% of the patients (Karnofsky Performance Scale score <=70). Mild worsening was seen in 9% of the patients (Karnofsky Performance Scale score, 80). No bleeding or rebleeding was seen after endovascular treatment was considered to have been completed.

CONCLUSION: This study proves that embolization with acrylic glue is a therapeutic option that compares favorably with surgery or embolization with other agents (particles, coils, or balloons). It offers stable long-term clinical results, despite not necessarily achieving total cure. Studies of larger series with longer follow-up are necessary to confirm these encouraging therapeutic data.

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