Natural history and treatment of craniocervical junction dural arteriovenous fistulas

Joanna Y. Wang, Joseph Molenda, Ali Bydon, Geoffrey P. Colby, Alexander L. Coon, Rafael J. Tamargo, Judy Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) located at the craniocervical junction are rare vascular malformations with distinctive features, and their natural history and the optimal treatment strategy remains unclear. We retrospectively reviewed eight patients with craniocervical junction DAVF who were evaluated at our institution between 2009 and 2012. We also conducted a MEDLINE search for all reports of craniocervical junction DAVF between 1970 and 2013, and reviewed 119 patients from 56 studies. From a total of 127 patients, 46 (37.1%) presented with myelopathy, 53 (43.1%) with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), and four (3.3%) with brainstem dysfunction. SAH was typically mild, most often Hunt and Hess Grade I or II (83.3%), and associated with ascending venous drainage via the intracranial veins (p < 0.001). Higher rates of obliteration were observed after microsurgery compared to embolization. Overall, younger age (odds ratio [OR] 1.07; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.12; p = 0.011), hemorrhagic presentation (OR 0.17; 95% CI 0.06-0.50; p = 0.001), and microsurgery (OR 0.23; 95% CI 0.08-0.6; p = 0.004) were independently predictive of good outcome at the last follow-up. Microsurgery was the only independent predictor of overall improvement at the last follow-up (OR 4.35; 95% CI 1.44-13.2; p = 0.009). Prompt diagnosis and microsurgical management, offering a greater chance of immediate obliteration, may optimize the outcomes for patients with craniocervical junction DAVF. Endovascular treatment is often not feasible due to lesion angioarchitecture, and is associated with a higher risk of lesion recanalization or recurrence. However, long term studies with newer embolic agents such as Onyx (ev3 Endovascular, Plymouth, MN, USA) are yet to be performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1701-1707
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Craniocervical
  • Dural arteriovenous fistula
  • Spinal vascular malformation
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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