Spinal epidural arteriovenous fistula with perimedullary drainage. Case report and pathomechanical considerations

J Neurosurg Spine. 2006 Oct;5(4):353-8. doi: 10.3171/spi.2006.5.4.353.


The classic angiographically demonstrated features of spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas are shunts of radiculomeningeal branches with radicular veins draining exclusively in the direction of perimedullary veins and thereby causing venous congestion. These shunts are located at the point where the radicular vein passes the dura mater. Spinal epidural arteriovenous shunts, however, normally do not drain into the perimedullary veins and are, therefore, asymptomatic, presumably because of a postulated reflux-impeding mechanism between the dural sleeves. The authors report on a patient in whom an epidural arteriovenous shunt showed delayed retrograde drainage into perimedullary veins, leading to the classic clinical (and magnetic resonance imaging-based) findings of venous congestion. Intraoperatively the angiographically established diagnosis was confirmed. Coagulation of both the epidural shunt zone and the radicular vein resulted in complete obliteration of the fistula, as confirmed on repeated angiography. This rare type of fistula should stimulate considerations on the role of valvelike mechanisms normally impeding retrograde flow from the epidural plexus to perimedullary veins and suggest that, in certain pathological circumstances, epidural fistulas can drain retrogradely into perimedullary veins as an infrequent variant of spinal arteriovenous shunts.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / etiology*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / physiopathology*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*