[Intracranial dural fistula with spinal cord venous drainage. Apropos of 2 cases]

J Neuroradiol. 1994 Apr;21(2):134-54.
[Article in French]


The authors report 2 new cases of intracranial dural fistula draining into spinal veins. Comparisons with 19 other published cases showed that dural fistulae of the spine share common features with intracranial fistulae. The first case concerned a 78-year old woman presenting with a thoraco-lumbar myelopathy which proceeded by increasingly severe bouts and ended within 6 months in a flaccid sensorimotor paraplegia with urinary incontinence. Paraclinical examinations consisted of MRI, myelography and spinal as well as cerebral arteriography. MRI and thoraco-lumbar myelography displayed marks of dilated retrospinal vessels. Spinal arteriography showed no arteriovenous malformation, but the venous return of Adamkiewicz artery was not visible. Diagnosis was made by cerebral arteriography which demonstrated an intracranial arteriovenous fistula in the occipital region, draining into the posterior spinal vein. Treatment was endovascular and consisted of embolization by micro-coils, but clinical improvement was mediocre. Six months later, as the clinical picture was getting worse a second arteriography was performed. It showed recanalization of the fistula which was embolized again, using both coils and particles. No improvement in spinal cord deficit was observed. The second case was that of a 42-year old man presenting with paraparesis, tetrapyramidal syndrome, sensory deficit at T9, peribuccal dysaesthesias and genito-urinary sphincteral disorders, all gradually getting worse. The paraclinical exploration was the same as in the first case. MRI and myelography showed retrospinal vascular impressions. Spinal arteriography was normal, except for the lack of venous return of Adamkiewicz artery. Cerebral arteriography detected an intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula in the occipital region, draining into the anterior and posterior spinal veins. Treatment was surgical, consisting of exclusion of the arteriovenous fistula. Partial clinical improvement was noted. These two cases, compared with those of the literature, shared a number of features with spinal dural arteriovenous fistulae: they occur in middle-aged and predominantly male patients, and the clinical signs of ascending myelopathy are caused by the same physiopathological mechanism of spinal vein hyperpressure. Lesions of the medulla oblongata or the cervical spinal cord are found only in intracranial arteriovenous fistulae draining into spinal veins. Diagnosis is based on data provided by myelography (impressions of dilated and sinous vessels) and MRI (low-intensity perispinal signals, widening of the conus medullaris with high-intensity centrospinal signal); spinal cord angiography only shows a lack of venous return of Adamkiewicz artery without any other abnormality, whereas cerebral arteriography confirmed the diagnosis of intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula draining into spinal veins.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnosis*
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Dura Mater / blood supply*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Myelography
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply
  • Veins