Spinal vascular malformations

Eur Radiol. 2005 Feb;15(2):267-78. doi: 10.1007/s00330-004-2510-2. Epub 2004 Oct 22.


Spinal vascular malformations are rare diseases that consist of true inborn cavernomas and arteriovenous malformations (including perimedullary fistulae, glomerular and juvenile AVMs) and presumably acquired dural arteriovenous fistulae. This review article gives an overview of the imaging features both on MRI and angiography, the differential diagnoses, the clinical symptomatology and the potential therapeutic approaches to these diseases. It is concluded that MRI is the diagnostic modality of first choice in suspected spinal vascular malformation and should be complemented by selective spinal angiography. Treatment in symptomatic patients offers an improvement in the prognosis, but should be performed in specialized centers. Patients with spinal cord cavernomas and perimedullary fistulae type I are surgical candidates. Dural arteriovenous fistulae can either be operated upon or can be treated by an endovascular approach, the former being a simple, quick and secure approach to obliterate the fistula, while the latter is technically demanding. In spinal arteriovenous malformations, the endovascular approach is the method of first choice; in selected cases, a combined therapy might be sensible.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*