Treatment of cranial dural arteriovenous fistulae by interruption of leptomeningeal venous drainage

J Neurosurg. 1994 Apr;80(4):617-23. doi: 10.3171/jns.1994.80.4.0617.


Cranial dural arteriovenous fistulae (AVF's) of the tentorial incisura or the dura of the middle fossa have a much higher incidence of draining via leptomeningeal veins than do AVF's of the transverse-sigmoid sinuses or the cavernous sinus. Such a drainage pattern is associated with an increased incidence of intracranial hemorrhage and progressive focal neurological deficits. Patients with cranial dural AVF's often undergo surgical excision and/or endovascular embolization for elimination of the AVF. Since these lesions are frequently large and involve the skull base or adjacent dural sinuses, extensive surgery is often required. In contrast, spinal dural AVF's with only intradural venous drainage to the medullary venous system are treated successfully by simply interrupting the vein that drains the dural AVF as it enters the subarachnoid space. The authors identified a subgroup of patients with cranial dural AVF's in whom the AVF was drained only by leptomeningeal veins, and sought to establish whether simple interruption of the vein draining the blood from the AVF into the subarachnoid space is effective and lasting treatment in this subgroup of patients, as it is in patients with spinal dural AVF's. Four adult patients with symptomatic cranial dural AVF's (two petrotentorial, one middle fossa floor, and one posterior fossa base) were identified on arteriography as having fistulae that were supplied by the internal and/or external carotid arteries and drained only via leptomeningeal veins (two entered the petrosal vein, one a cerebellar hemispheric vein, and one a mesencephalic vein). All patients underwent interruption of the vein draining the dural AVF as it penetrated the dura to enter the subarachnoid space, and experienced neurological improvement after surgery. Repeat arteriography at 1 to 2 weeks (three patients), 3 months (3 patients), 12 to 15 months (three patients), and 4 years (two patients) revealed no residual AVF and no evidence of abnormal blood flow. Many cranial dural AVF's with leptomeningeal venous drainage (the type with the most aggressive behavior) are drained only by leptomeningeal veins. This subgroup of patients can be identified by selective arteriography and requires only interruption of the draining vein as it enters the subarachnoid space for successful, lasting elimination.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arachnoid / blood supply
  • Arachnoid / surgery*
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / surgery*
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Drainage*
  • Dura Mater / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pia Mater / blood supply
  • Pia Mater / surgery*
  • Veins / surgery