Dural arteriovenous fistula of the lumbar spine presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage. Case report and review of the literature

J Neurosurg. 2004 Apr;100(4 Suppl Spine):385-91. doi: 10.3171/spi.2004.100.4.0385.


The authors report on a patient presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) that was initially attributed to an aneurysm of the right internal carotid artery. During surgical exploration and placement of a clip, however, it was observed that the aneurysm had not ruptured. Diagnostic workup including spinal magnetic resonance imaging revealed a vascular malformation of the lumbar spinal canal within a subarachnoid hematoma. Spinal angiography demonstrated a spinal dural arteriovenous fistula (DAVF) (Type I spinal arteriovenous malformation) with a feeding vessel arising from the L-4 radicular artery. In the literature, SAH due to spinal DAVFs is rare; only cases of dural fistulas of the craniocervical junction and the cervical spine have been reported. This is the first case of SAH that can be attributed to a lumbar DAVF. Although unusual even in cases of cervical DAVF, SAH as a presenting symptom may occur in spinal DAVF of any location. Nontraumatic SAH should not be prematurely attributed to the rupture of an intracranial aneurysm if the clinical findings and imaging results are inconclusive.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / diagnosis
  • Angiography
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / complications*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnosis
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / blood supply
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / etiology*