The negative impact of treatment delays on the long-term neurological outcomes of spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas: a longitudinal cohort study

Victor Gabriel El-Hajj, Cornelia Daller, Alexander Fletcher-Sandersjöö, Maria Gharios, Mohamad Bydon, Michael Söderman, Pascal Jabbour, Erik Edström, Adrian Elmi-Terander*, Fabian Arnberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Dural arteriovenous fistulas are rare vascular malformations that affect the brain and spinal cord. Spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (sdAVFs) are the most frequently encountered vascular malformation affecting the spinal cord. The object of this study was to evaluate the impact of treatment delays on the long-term neurological outcomes of either open surgical or interventional treatment of sdAVFs.

METHODS: In this retrospective, population-based cohort study, the authors examined consecutive patients with diagnosed sdAVFs at a tertiary care center between 2005 and 2020. Patients were assessed using the Aminoff-Logue disability scale (ALS) at various time points including symptom onset, primary care visit, first specialist outpatient visit, as well as both short and long-term follow-ups. The postoperative long-term ALS gait and bladder grades constituted the primary outcomes of the study.

RESULTS: Among the 34 patients included in the study, the median age was 65 years, and there was a male predominance (71%). Most lesions were in the lumbar region (47%). Significant worsening in ALS gait and bladder grades was observed preoperatively, followed by postoperative improvements (p < 0.05). There was no difference in outcomes between surgical and endovascular treatments. Older age (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.03-1.17, p = 0.007), worse preoperative ALS gait grades (OR 5.12, 95% CI 2.18-12.4, p < 0.001), and longer time from first specialist outpatient visit to first treatment (OR 1.00, 95% CI 1.00-1.01, p = 0.040) were independently associated with worse long-term gait outcomes. Only the preoperative ALS bladder score was a predictor of worse long-term bladder function (OR 92.7, 95% CI 28.0-306.7, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Both surgical and endovascular treatments for sdAVFs led to significant neurological improvements. However, treatment delays were associated with less favorable long-term outcomes. Prompt diagnosis and early intervention prior to symptom progression may enhance recovery and help to preserve neurological function.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE14
Pages (from-to)E14
JournalNeurosurgical Focus
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Cohort Studies
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Delay
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations/complications
  • bladder dysfunction
  • diagnostic delay
  • surgical treatment
  • endovascular treatment
  • treatment delay
  • spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas
  • neurological outcomes
  • gait disturbance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Surgery

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