Early and long-term excess mortality in 227 patients with intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas

J Neurosurg. 2013 Jul;119(1):164-71. doi: 10.3171/2013.3.JNS121547. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


Object: The aim of this study was to assess the early and long-term excess mortality in patients with intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula (DAVF) compared with a matched general Finnish population in an unselected, population-based series.

Methods: The authors identified 227 patients with DAVFs admitted to 2 of the 5 Departments of Neurosurgery in Finland--Helsinki and Kuopio University Hospitals--between 1944 and 2006. All patients were followed until death or the end of 2009. Long-term excess mortality was estimated using the relative survival ratio compared with the general Finnish population matched by age, sex, and calendar year.

Results: The median follow-up period was 10 years (range 0-44 years). Two-thirds (67%) of the DAVFs were located in the region of transverse and sigmoid sinuses. Cortical venous drainage (CVD) was present in 28% of the DAVFs (18% transverse and sigmoid sinus, 42% others). Of the 61 deaths counted, 11 (18%) were during the first 12 months and were mainly caused by treatment complications (5 of 11, 45%). The 1-year survivors presenting with hemorrhage experienced excess mortality until 7 years from admission. However, DAVFs with CVD were associated with significant, continuous excess mortality. There were more cerebrovascular and cardiovascular deaths in this group of patients than expected in the general Finnish population. Location other than transverse and sigmoid sinuses was also associated with excess mortality.

Conclusions: In the patients with DAVF there was excess mortality during the first 12 months, mainly due to treatment complications. Thereafter, their overall long-term survival became similar to that of the matched general population. However, DAVFs with CVD and those located in regions other than transverse and sigmoid sinuses were associated with marked long-term excess mortality after the first 12 months.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / mortality*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / mortality*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult