MRI and MRA of spinal cord arteriovenous shunts

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2014 Dec;40(6):1253-66. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24591. Epub 2014 Mar 3.


The purpose of this review is to describe the diagnostic criteria for spinal cord arteriovenous shunts (SCAVSs) when using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and to discuss the extent to which the different MRI and MRA sequences and technical parameters provide the information that is required to diagnose these lesions properly. SCAVSs are divided into four groups according to location (paraspinal, epidural, dural, or intradural) and type (fistula or nidus); each type of lesion is described. SCAVSs are responsible for neurological symptoms due to spinal cord or nerve root involvement. MRI is usually the first examination performed when a spinal cord lesion is suspected. Recognition of the image characteristics of vascular lesions is mandatory if useful sequences are to be performed-especially MRA sequences. Because the treatment of SCAVSs relies mainly on endovascular therapies, MRI and MRA help with the planning of the angiographic procedure. We explain the choice of MRA sequences and parameters, the advantages and pitfalls to be aware of in order to obtain the best visualization, and the analysis of each lesion.

Keywords: MR angiography; MRA; MRI; spinal cord arteriovenous malformation; spinal cord arteriovenous shunt.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / pathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Positioning / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*
  • Young Adult