The discovery of a multi-level arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the thoracic epidural space can now bring relief to potentially thousands of suffers of chronic thoracic pain and progressive myelopothy. Identified as thoracic epidural arteriovenous malformation (T.E.A.M.), this particular AMV primarily affects younger women ages 20 to 40.
While AVMs are rare, affecting approximately 300,000 people, according to the National Institutes of Health, AVMs in this particular multi-level location have previously not been documented in medical literature. Symptoms of this condition include severe pain in the middle back area extending to the chest, loss of function and coordination of the lower extremities, hyperreflexia, muscle spasms and severe pain at night.
The discovery was made by neurological spine surgeon Dr. Robert S. Bray Jr., the CEO and founder of D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center. He will present his initial findings at the annual Congress of Neurological Surgeons in New Orleans on Oct. 24-29, 2009.
Undiagnosed, patients are left without viable treatment options that can result in chronic pain, permanent nerve damage and even paralysis of the lower extremities. Corrective action can now be taken with an outpatient microsurgical procedure (laminotomy) that takes approximately one and half to three hours. By clipping the malformation, the pulsing blood flow to the epidural space is interrupted, thus reducing the pressure on the spine.
Following surgery, significant reversal of symptoms and reduction of pain has been documented in all the cases reported, with recovery varying from two months to one year, based on the extent of the disease’s progression.