Thoracic spinal arteriovenous malformation in a 16-year-old presenting with headache.

Spinal arteriovenous malformations (sAVM) are abnormally developed spinal blood vessels with an increased risk of hemorrhage. Current literature regarding sAVMs is sparse and describes classic presentations in very young children or adults. We report a unique case of a sAVM in an adolescent patient. A 16-year-old female patient presented to the emergency department with a 3-day history of headaches. Initial CT showed no abnormalities. Worsening headaches led the patient to a neurology clinic and a fundoscopy revealed papilledema. The patient was transferred to a pediatric emergency department where repeat head CT showed a possible subarachnoid hemorrhage, and a cranial MRI/MRV showed what appeared to be a non-occlusive sinus venous thrombosis. CT angiography of the head and neck showed no evidence of thrombosis, but it did reveal possible upper thoracic vascular abnormalities. Thoracic MRI revealed an intradural sAVM at T3-T5. The sAVM was successfully resected with thoracic laminectomy with reconstructive laminoplasty. The patient experienced complications with development of right lower extremity motor and sensory deficits intra-op, but is showing continued improvement. This unique case encourages emergency medicine clinicians to expand the differential diagnoses for pediatric patients presenting with a headache and intracranial hypertension without a clear intracranial cause.

as reported in: Schoonover A, Nanda S, Singer J, Benner C. Am J Emerg Med. 2022 Apr doi: S0735-6757(22)00220-0.