Newswise 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.
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.
Undiagnosed, patients are left without viable treatment options that can result in chronic pain, permanent nerve damage and even paralysis of the lower extremities.
The discovery of this new syndrome will help alleviate the needless suffering of patients, especially young women, who are struggling with chronic back pain and neurologic deficits that have previously been undiagnosed or have been completely missed diagnosed," said Dr. Bray, one of the first neurosurgeons in the country to dedicate his practice to minimally invasive spine procedures 20 years ago. "
The difficulty of the diagnosis was the inability of the AVM to show up in a traditional MRI. The impetus that led to the discovery was a surgical procedure on a young woman to remove a lipoma, which is generally benign fatty tissue. Upon visual inspection, an AVM was discovered
Whitney, a 28-year-old screenwriter, was among the first patients Dr. Bray accurately diagnosed and was successfully treated with surgery in April, 2008. With symptoms developing approximately one year prior to her diagnosis, Anderson began a gradual decline that was exacerbated in the final six weeks with severe foot spams, loss of coordination and loss of sensation in her legs.
"At first I thought it was restless leg syndrome because at night my legs would jerk incessantly, keeping me awake," she said. "I had difficulty descending stairs, but shrugged it off as being out of shape. I was bumping into things, but then I'd always been a klutz. I had back pain, but thought that was because of stress.