Object: Dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) with leptomeningeal venous reflux generally pose a high risk of aggressive manifestations including hemorrhage. Among DAVFs, there is a peculiar type that demonstrates direct drainage into the bridging vein rather than the dural venous sinus. The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics of DAVFs that drain directly into the petrosal vein or the bridging vein of the medulla oblongata.
Methods: Eleven consecutive cases of DAVFs that drained directly into the petrosal vein and 6 that drained directly into the bridging vein of the medulla were retrospectively reviewed. These cases were evaluated and/or treated at Hospital de Bicêtre in Paris, France, over a 27-year period. A review of previously reported cases was also performed.
Results: Both of these "extrasinusal"-type DAVFs demonstrated very similar characteristics. There was a significant male predominance (p < 0.001) for this lesion, and a significantly higher incidence of aggressive neurological manifestations including hemorrhage or venous hypertension than in DAVFs of the transverse-sigmoid or cavernous sinus (p < 0.001). This finding was considered to be attributable to leptomeningeal venous reflux. Regarding treatment, endovascular embolization (either transarterial or transvenous) is frequently difficult, and surgery may be an effective therapeutic choice in many instances.
Conclusions: Embryologically, both the petrosal vein and the bridging vein of the medulla are cranial homologs of the spinal cord emissary bridging veins that drain the pial venous network. The authors believe that DAVFs in these locations may be included in a single category with spinal DAVFs because of their similar clinical characteristics.