Diagnostic and surgical management of spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas

Neurosurgery. 1998 Aug;43(2):242-6; discussion 246-7. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199808000-00032.


Objective: A retrospective review was conducted to compare magnetic resonance (MR) and conventional spinal angiographic images and to investigate the outcome of our treatment protocol for patients with spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs).

Materials and methods: Nine patients with a diagnosis of DAVF based on clinical myelopathy and preoperative MR imaging (MRI) and MR angiography (MRA) findings were treated at our institution by the senior author (BAG). All nine patients initially presented with progressive myelopathy. Preoperative MRI revealed T2-weighted signal abnormalities in all patients, and MRA was diagnostic in all patients. Each patient underwent a laminectomy and ligation of the arterialized draining vein. Selective spinal angiograms were used to confirm the level of fistula immediately before the surgical procedure was performed and to document complete obliteration after clip ligation of the medullary draining vein. Follow-up MRI and MRA were performed approximately 2 months postoperatively.

Results: MRI T2-weighted signal hyperintensity improved after surgery in all nine patients. Postoperatively, progression of motor weakness and gait difficulty was halted and some improvement was observed in all patients. No patient was neurologically normal, however. To date, there has been no clinical or MRA evidence of recurrence in any patient.

Conclusion: Preoperative MRA and intraoperative spinal x-ray angiography present as an effective combination for diagnosing and intraoperatively confirming DAVF. Both T1-weighted enhancement and T2-weighted signal hyperintensity on MR images improved after the obliteration of the DAVFs and correlated with clinical improvement in all nine patients. MRA provides adequate visualization and localization of spinal DAVFs and may serve as a useful noninvasive tool for diagnosing and following patients with spinal DAVFs in the future.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angiography
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnosis
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / surgery*
  • Dura Mater / blood supply*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Ligation
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*