Cranial and sacral dural arteriovenous fistulas as a cause of myelopathy

M. D. Partington, D. A. Rufenacht, W. R. Marsh, D. G. Piepgras

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Abstract

The authors report a series of seven patients with myelopathy who were found to have spinal dural arteriovenous (AV) fistulas in which the nidus was located at some distance from the spinal cord. The nidus was intracranial in three cases and involved a sacral nerve root sheath in the other four; in each case, the arterialized draining vein led into the coronal plexus of medullary veins. A lack of normal draining radicular veins was noted in all cases. Magnetic resonance images were obtained in four patients and demonstrated spinal cord tissue changes only in the lower thoracic cord in three cases and in the cervical cord in one, all consistent with an ischemic process secondary to venous hypertension. Five patients were managed surgically by division of the draining vein, with improvement of the neurological deficit in all. One patient was treated by embolization alone and had stabilization of her deficit. The remaining patient in the series died of unrelated systemic disease before the spinal dural AV fistula could be treated. These cases support the theory that venous hypertension is the dominant pathophysiological mechanism involved in spinal dural AV fistulas independent of their location. In patients with a suspected spinal dural AV fistula, lumbar and thoracic spinal angiography will reveal the site of the fistula in the majority of cases (88% in this series). In the remaining patients, the possibility of a remote fistula must be considered. The lack of normal venous drainage of the cord following injection in the artery of Adamkiewicz is the most reliable indicator of venous hypertension in the cord and can be helpful in making the decision to proceed with a search for a cranial or sacral arterial supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-622
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Volume76
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

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Keywords

  • arteriovenous fistula
  • myelopathy
  • spinal arteriovenous malformation
  • spinal cord
  • venous hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this

Partington, M. D., Rufenacht, D. A., Marsh, W. R., & Piepgras, D. G. (1992). Cranial and sacral dural arteriovenous fistulas as a cause of myelopathy. Journal of neurosurgery, 76(4), 615-622. https://doi.org/10.3171/jns.1992.76.4.0615