Endovascular versus surgical treatment of cranial dural arteriovenous fistulas: a single-center 8-year experience

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2022 Jan;164(1):151-161. doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-04950-9. Epub 2021 Sep 6.


Background: Cranial dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVFs) are rare lesions managed mainly with endovascular treatment (EVT) and/or surgery. We hypothesize that there may be subtypes of dAVFs responding better to a specific treatment modality in terms of successful obliteration and cessation of symptoms and/or risks.

Methods: All dAVFs treated during 2011-2018 at our hospital were analyzed retrospectively. Presenting symptoms, radiological variables, treatment modality, complications, and residual symptoms were related to dAVF type using the original Djindjian classification.

Results: We treated 112 dAVFs in 107 patients (71, 66% males). They presented with hemorrhage (n = 23; 21%), non-hemorrhagic symptoms (n = 75; 70%), or were discovered incidentally (n = 9; 8%). There were 25 (22%) type I, 29 (26%) type II, 26 (23%) type III, and 32 (29%) type IV fistulas. EVT was the primary treatment modality in 72/112 (64%) dAVFs whereas 40/112 (36%) underwent primary surgery with angiographic obliteration rates of 60% and 90%, respectively. Using a secondary treatment modality in 23 dAVFs, we obtained a final obliteration rate of 93%, including all type III/IV and 26/27 (96%) type II dAVFs. Except for headache, residual symptoms were rare and minor. Permanent neurological complications consisted of five cranial nerve deficits.

Conclusions: We recommend EVT as first treatment modality in types I, II, and in non-hemorrhagic type III/IV dAVFs. We recommend surgery as first treatment choice in acute hemorrhagic dAVFs and as secondary choice in type III/IV dAVFs not successfully occluded by EVT. Combining the two modalities provides obliteration in 9/10 dAVF cases at a low procedural risk.

Keywords: Cerebral venous aneurysm; Dural arteriovenous fistula; Intracranial hemorrhage; Outcome; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations* / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System Vascular Malformations* / surgery
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull
  • Treatment Outcome