Objective: The goals of this study were to characterize the clinical, radiological, treatment, and outcome data associated with patients diagnosed with spinal dural arteriovenous fistulae (SDAVFs) at a single tertiary care institution over a 20-year period.
Methods: A 20-year retrospective study was undertaken at our university hospital. Patients with mixed intracranial and spinal dural fistulas were excluded. A literature review of articles reporting endovascular or combined treatment of SDAVFs was performed.
Results: Between 1984 and 2005, our institution diagnosed and treated 63 patients (mean age, 62; 13 women, 50 men) with SDAVFs. The presenting symptoms were consistent with progressive myelopathy, and included lower extremity weakness (33 patients, 52%), parasthesias (19 patients, 30%), back pain (15 patients, 24%), and urinary symptoms (four patients, 6%). Thirty-nine patients underwent an initial endovascular embolization with 27 requiring only this first procedure for complete obliteration. On the other hand, 24 patients underwent an initial surgical procedure with 20 of them treated successfully with a single operation. Endovascular patients presented at mean age 62.3 years (standard deviation [SD], 10.6), were hospitalized for an average of 3.1 days (SD, 2.6), and were followed-up for 39 months (SD, 33). Surgical patients presented at mean age of 65.8 years (SD, 10.3), were hospitalized for 9.8 days (SD, 2.7), and were followed-up for 35 months (SD, 44). A significant improvement in Aminoff-Logue scores was found in both the endovascular and surgery groups (gait, P < 0.001; micturition, P = 0.005). The endovascular group had reduced hospitalization (P = 0.0001). No differences were found in the magnitude of clinical response to treatment.
Conclusion: SDAVFs most commonly present with progressive myelopathy, yet often remain undiagnosed for months or years. Endovascular therapies and surgical therapies are associated with significantly improved symptoms once the definitive diagnosis of SDAVF is made.