To improve our ability to visualize the Adamkiewicz artery (AKA), we developed a modified intravenous CT angiography technique, which we refer to as right atrial CT (RA-CT) angiography. In this study, AKA detection rate and visualization of the arterial continuity from the aorta to the anterior spinal cord artery (ASA) was evaluated using RA-CT angiography.We performed RA-CT angiography in 110 patients with abdominal, thoracic descending, or thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms. In RA-CT angiography, contrast medium with a high iodine concentration (370 mg/dl) was injected twice into the right atrium at a high injection rate (8.0 ml/sec), and two CT scans, starting at 20 sec after the first injection and at 35 sec after the second injection, respectively, were performed. All CT images were obtained using an 8- or 16-detector CT scanner at a slice thickness of 0.625 mm. The AKA was defined as the largest radiculomedullary artery with a characteristic hairpin turn, and with continuity from the aorta to the ASA.The AKA with hairpin turn was detected in all patients (100%), and continuity from the aorta to the ASA was confirmed in 99 of the 110 patients (90.0%). The AKA arose between Th8 and L1 in 86 of these patients (86.8%), and originated from the left side in 71 patients (71.7%).RA-CT angiography may be useful for visualizing the AKA and the arterial continuity from the aorta to the ASA in patients with aortic aneurysm, although the use of more advanced CT machines will provide safe and easy identification of the AKA and arterial continuity with a small amount of contrast medium and a single scan.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to better characterize the intraforaminal location of the great anterior radiculomedullary artery (artery ofAdamkiewicz [AKA]) within the neural foramen that would allow safer targeting of thoracic and lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective review of conventional thoracic and lumbar spinal angiograms performed at the Mayo Clinic from 1998-2008 was conducted. Two hundred forty-eight patients were identified and their spinal angiograms reviewed. The cephalo-caudal location of the AKA within the foramen at the mid-pedicular plane was documented along with the side and level of the AKA. RESULTS: From the 248 patients, 113 radiculomedullary arteries could be clearly evaluated within a neural foramen. The AKA was located in the superior one-half of the foramen in 97% (110). Eighty-eight percent (100) were located in the upper third; 9% (10) were located in the middle third; and 2% (2) were located in the lower third. The AKA was never seen in the inferior one-fifth of the foramen. Eighty-eight percent (100) of the radiculomedullary arteries were located on the left while 17% (20) were located on the right. The radiculomedullary arteries were identified from T2-L3. 92% (110) were located between T8 and L1. 28% (34) were located at T10, the highest incidence. CONCLUSIONS: The AKA was overwhelmingly located in the superior aspect of the neural foramen. Contrary to traditional teaching, the safest needle placement for an epidural steroid injection, particularly at L3 and above, may not be in the superior aspect of the foramen, but rather in an inferior and slightly posterior position within the foramen and relative to the nerve.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Injury to spinal segmental arteries may potentially occur during spinal surgery, particularly during anterior or minimally invasive approaches. Use of a noninvasive radiologic tool to evaluate these arteries before surgery may reduce this risk. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We performed spinal CT angiography and reconstructed 3D images of segmental arteries in 41 patients. We classified the pathways and locations of the segmental arteries into 4 zones (A, B, C, and D) according to pedicle and vertebral endplates. We designated segmental arteries from T8 to L1 as "high-level segmental arteries" and those from L2 to L4, as "low-level segmental arteries." We compared the distribution of segmental arteries between these 2 groups. We also investigated anatomic variations of segmental arteries and the rate of occurrence of the artery of Adamkiewicz. RESULTS: In all patients, 3D reconstruction images from spinal CT angiography clearly showed the pathways of segmental arteries on the vertebral bodies. Most of the segmental arteries passed the middle portion of the vertebral body (zones B and C). However, 51 of 738 segmentalarteries (6.9%) had uncommon pathways (zones A and D), and segmental arteries from L2 to L4 had a higher incidence of uncommon pathways than higher level vertebrae (P < .05). We also observed 2 types of segmental artery anatomic variation, agenesis and dual supply. CONCLUSIONS:
We suggest that spinal CT angiography can help to precisely visualize the spinal segmental arteries and surrounding bony structures and can aid clinicians in deciding on optimal approaches for spinal surgery.