Spinal vascular malformations--typical and atypical findings

Zentralbl Neurochir. 2007 Nov;68(4):205-13. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-985852. Epub 2007 Oct 26.


Vascular malformations of the spinal cord and its meninges are rare diseases which comprise true inborn cavernomas and arteriovenous malformations (AVM), including perimedullary fistulae, glomerular and juvenile AVMs, and presumably acquired dural arteriovenous fistulae. This article gives an overview of the imaging features on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and digital subtraction angiography of both typical and atypical findings to describe the wide variety of possible pathological entities encountered. Clinical differential diagnoses, the neurological symptomatology and potential therapeutic approaches of these diseases, which may vary depending on the underlying pathology, are given. Although MRI constitutes the first choice diagnostic modality for suspected spinal vascular malformations, we conclude that the definite diagnosis of the disease and thus the choice of the appropriate therapeutic approach rests on selective spinal angiography which should be performed at a specialized center. Treatment in symptomatic patients offers an improvement in prognosis. Microsurgical treatment is recommended for symptomatic spinal cord cavernomas. Dural arteriovenous shunts can either be treated by microsurgical or endovascular approaches, the former being a simple, quick and secure approach to obliterate the fistula while the latter is technically demanding. In spinal arteriovenous malformations of both the fistulous and the glomerular type, the endovascular approach is the method of first choice; in selected cases, surgery or a combined therapy may be necessary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Fistula / pathology
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / surgery
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / therapy
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / surgery
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spine / blood supply*
  • Spine / pathology*