Pseudo-Aneurysm of a Lumbar Artery After Flexion-Distraction Injury of the Thoraco-Lumbar Spine and Surgical Realignment: Rupture Treated by Endovascular Embolization

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Study Design.

A unique case of pseudo-aneurysm of a lumbar artery after injury of the thoracolumbar spine was presented.


To describe the exceptional occurrence of pseudo-aneurysm of a lumbar artery after flexion-distraction fracture of thoracolumbar junction and to discuss the mechanism of formation and the therapeutic solution.

Summary of Background Data.

Injury of a lumbar artery represents a potential cause of massive, life-threatening, retroperitoneal bleeding. It may be associated with lesions of the abdomen, lower limbs, pelvic bones, and spinal column. Fracture of a transverse process may be responsible for direct laceration of a lumbar artery, but formation of a pseudo-aneurysm is an uncommon event. The diagnosis is difficult and often delayed. The treatment of choice is endovascular embolization.


In a patient who had a posttraumatic severe thoracolumbar vertebral dislocation with complete spinal cord lesion after road accident, we performed surgical reduction and stabilization via posterior approach. After 7 days, he developed a progressive anemia due to retroperitoneal hemorrhage and formation of a pseudo-aneurysm of the lumbar artery at L1 level.


Endovascular embolization achieved resolution of the pseudo-aneurysm, regression of the hematoma and progressive recovery of the patient during a period of 6 months.


Pseudo-aneurysm of a lumbar artery has never previously been described in association with flexion-distraction type vertebral fracture, in which the spinal column is subjected to greater, shear-type, forces. Stretching of the arterial wall due to the traumatic dislocation of the spine and subsequent surgical realignment may be considered as the mechanism of formation and rupture of the pseudo-aneurysm. Dangerous bleeding in the retroperitoneal space and in the operative field can be effectively managed by endovascular intervention.

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