Spinal Arteriovenous Shunts: Angioarchitecture and Historical Changes in Classification

Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 2017 Jul 15;57(7):356-365. doi: 10.2176/nmc.ra.2016-0316. Epub 2017 May 18.


The purposes of this study were to review historical changes in the classification of spinal arteriovenous (AV) shunts and to propose a practical classification system. The associated literature regarding the classification of spinal AV shunts was reviewed in the angiography era between 1967 and 2015. The classification systems of spinal AV shunts and a proposed classification system were presented with neuroradiological imaging and medical illustrations. There have been seven major classification systems based on the evolution of diagnostic methods as well as treatments for spinal AV shunts: the first description of spinal AV shunts diagnosed and classified using spinal angiography in 1971; the second classification based on a case report of intradural direct perimedullary arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) treated by microsurgery in 1987; the third classification based on a case series of intradural perimedullary AVFs treated by endovascular interventions in 1993; the fourth and fifth classification systems based on a case series of spinal AVFs and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) treated by microsurgery or endovascular interventions in 2002; the sixth classification based on a case series of cranio-spinal dural AV shunts in 2009; and the seventh classification based on a case series of extradural AVFs treated by microsurgery and endovascular interventions in 2011. Based on historical reports, the author proposed a classification system according to the sites (dural, intradural, and extradural) and types (AVF and AVM) of AV shunts. By learning the historical background, we may obtain a clearer understanding of the complex and confusing classification system of spinal AV shunts.

Keywords: epidural arteriovenous fistula; pial arteriovenous fistula; spinal arteriovenous fistula; spinal arteriovenous malformation; spinal vascular malformation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Malformations / classification*
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / classification*
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations / pathology*
  • Humans