Neurology India
menu-bar5 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus
  Users online: 667  
 Home | Login 
About Editorial board Articlesmenu-bullet NSI Publicationsmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Videos Etcetera Contact
  Navigate Here 
 Resource Links
  »  Similar in PUBMED
 »  Search Pubmed for
 »  Search in Google Scholar for
 »Related articles
  »  Article in PDF (1,063 KB)
  »  Citation Manager
  »  Access Statistics
  »  Reader Comments
  »  Email Alert *
  »  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this Article
 »  Abstract
 »  Introduction
 »  Case Report
 »  Discussion
 »  References
 »  Article Figures
 »  Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded49    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 7    

Recommend this journal


Table of Contents    
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 285-288

Subacute involvement of the medulla oblongata and occipital neuralgia revealing an intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula of the craniocervical junction

1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Amiens, Amiens, France
2 Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital Roger Salengro, Lille, France
3 Department of Neurology, Hospital Roger Salengro, Lille, France
4 Department of Neuroradiology, Hospital Roger Salengro, Lille, France

Date of Submission23-Dec-2010
Date of Decision09-Jan-2011
Date of Acceptance09-Jan-2011
Date of Web Publication7-Apr-2011

Correspondence Address:
Johann Peltier
Service de Neurochirurgie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire d'Amiens,Place Victor Pauchet, 80054 AMIENS cedex 1
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.79153

Rights and Permissions

 » Abstract 

A 58-year-old woman with cervicomedullary dural arteriovenous fistula (AVF) presenting with myelopathy, ipsilateral occipital neuralgia, and signs of involvement of the brainstem is reported and the previously published cases have been reviewed. The dural AVF was successfully treated surgically after an attempt of embolization.

Keywords: Dural arteriovenous fistula, medulla oblongata, myelopathy, spinal angiography

How to cite this article:
Peltier J, Baroncini M, Thines L, Lacour A, Leclerc X, Lejeune JP. Subacute involvement of the medulla oblongata and occipital neuralgia revealing an intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula of the craniocervical junction. Neurol India 2011;59:285-8

How to cite this URL:
Peltier J, Baroncini M, Thines L, Lacour A, Leclerc X, Lejeune JP. Subacute involvement of the medulla oblongata and occipital neuralgia revealing an intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula of the craniocervical junction. Neurol India [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Jul 2];59:285-8. Available from:

 » Introduction Top

Dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVF) are the malformations with the nidus in dura mater. Intracranial dural AVFs account for 12%-15% of all cerebral vascular malformations. [1],[2] Dural AVFs in the posterior fossa are very rare and mostly drain into the lateral sinus. [3] Pulsatile tinnitus is the most common presenting feature of intracranial dural AVFs and rarely subarachnoid hemorrhage. [1],[2],[3] This article reports a patient with cervicomedullary dural AVF and reviews the literature.

 » Case Report Top

A 58-year-old woman presented for the first time with transient weakness of the left lower limb and occipital neuralgia of 5 min duration. Computer tomography (CT) scan of brain was normal. Two months later, she presented with progressive quadriparesis. Neurologic examination showed marked weakness of all the 4 lower limbs, hyperactive stretch reflexes, ankle clonus, bilateral extensor plantar response, decreased perception of light touch and pinprick below C6 level, diminished rectal sphincter tone and urinary retention. During the hospital course she developed sudden onset of breathing difficulty, hiccups, swallowing difficulty, weakness of soft palate, loss of gag reflex, dysphonia, and paralysis of left trapezius muscle. Blood biochemistry and cerebrospinal fluid studies, and immunoglobulin G electrophoresis were normal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of brain showed a hyperintense signal in the lower brainstem and upper cervical spinal cord. She was given intravenous dexamethasone. Further review of MRI also revealed a serpentine vascular signal coursing medially on the posterior aspect of the high cervical spinal cord [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. Four-vessel cerebral angiography and spinal angiography revealed a dural AVF with feeder from posterior meningeal branch of the left vertebral artery arising near its dural crossing. The fistula drained intradurally via the left C1 radiculomedullary vein [Figure 3].
Figure 1: Frontal T1-weighted MRI after gadolinium enhancement disclosing a hypersignal from the cervical spinal cord to the pontomedullary sulcus without cord swelling with a dilated tortuous anterior medullary vein (arrow)

Click here to view
Figure 2: Sagittal T2-weighted MRI showing a hypersignal extending from the cervical spinal cord to the pontomedullary sulcus without cord swelling

Click here to view
Figure 3: Preoperative left vertebral angiogram, ¾ frontal view disclosing the nidus (arrow) fed by meningeal branches of the vertebral artery

Click here to view

Embolization was considered as the initial procedure. Catheterization of the feeding artery distally enough to allow embolization with Onyx was not technically feasible. A suboccipital craniotomy was then undertaken with clipping and section of the venous stem of the left C1 radicular vein. In the immediate postoperative period the arm strength and sensory disturbance improved. Postoperative course was uneventful. A follow-up angiography done 10 days later showed complete obliteration of dural AVF. MRI performed 2 weeks after surgery showed marked reduction in the hyperintense signals on T2-weighted sequences in the medulla oblongata. At 6 months follow-up she had mild spasticity in the lower limbs causing disability.

 » Discussion Top

In most of the cases, dural AVF represents an acquired abnormal communication between arterial and venous channels embedded in the dura. As the intradural spinal venous system is valveless and the venous perimedullary coronal plexus is in direct continuity with the veins of the posterior fossa, a venous congestive myelopathy is facilitated by the transmission of a high venous pressure to the spinal cord tissue. [1],[2],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] A thrombosis of a transverse sinus can be the cause of an aberrant venous drainage of the fistula into the spinal perimedullary veins. [9] Dural AVF produce dilated, tortuous, and elongated veins on the cord surface by shunting blood under high pressure from the dural AVF into the normal venous system of the spinal cord. [9] This can occur after a shunt at any level in the neural axis. [10] Stagnation of blood flow and chronic hypoxemia can result in the ischemia of both the spinal cord and brainstem. The occipital neuralgia in our patient is probably due to the ectatic vessels coursing both over the posterior roots of the C1 nerve and the spinal branch of the accessory nerve. This has been documented during microsurgery [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Intraoperative view showing the red arterialized posterior medullary vein (arrow), the left PICA (double arrowheads), the dorsal rootlets of C1 and the left accessory nerve hypervascularized

Click here to view

Dural AVFs commonly occur in the thoracolumbar region and the presenting features include myelopathy, subarachnoid hemorrhage, radiculopathy, and cranial nerve palsies and brainstem syndromes in patients with cervicomedullary dural AVFs. Most often these patients present with subacute or chronic symptoms. The duration of symptoms before the diagnosis of dural AVF is superior to 6 months in 89% of cases. Rarely they can present acutely. [1],[2],[4] Spinal MRI shows intrinsic hyperintense cord signals on T2-weighted sequences and the draining veins as a flow void signals. The diagnostic imaging modality to establish the diagnosis is spinal angiography. [1],[3] EC-TRICKS, a multiphase single-station contrast-enhanced 3D MRA acquisition technique to visualize dynamic processes, such as passage of blood with contrast agent through the vascular system, can help in establishing the diagnosis. This technique eliminates the need of a timed automatic triggering of scan along with the flow of contrast. The primary purpose of EC-TRICKS application is to obtain high temporal resolution for angiographic examinations. [11] The feeding arteries in AVFs located at the craniocervical junction are the petrosal branch of the middle meningeal artery, the meningeal branch of the ascending pharyngeal artery, meningeal branch of the occipital artery, meningeal branch of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery, meningeal branch of the meningohypophyseal trunk (from the internal carotid artery) or more rarely meningeal branches of the intracranial segment of the vertebral artery. The draining is usually into the anterior pontomesencephalic vein or the left transverse sinus or very rarely into a radicular vein as seen in our patient via the anterior and posterior medullary vein forming the coronal venous plexus. About 40%-50% of dural AVF have varices on the draining vein. [1],[3] The Cognard classification proposes 5 patterns of venous drainage: Type I-the main sinus, with antegrade flow [12] ; Type II-main sinus with reflux into the sinus (IIa), cortical veins (IIb), or both (IIa + b); Type III-direct cortical venous drainage without venous ectasia; Type IV-direct cortical venous drainage with venous ectasia; and Type V-with spinal venous drainage. [12] Treatment of the dural AVF can be either surgery or embolization. Simple interruption of the main draining dural veins to the spinal cord can be sufficient to achieve a cure of the dural AVF. [1] Transarterial and transvenous embolization have the advantage of predictive obliteration at the site of dural AVF. [2],[3],[13] The clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcome of 9 patients with brainstem involvement reported in the literature are reviewed in [Table 1].
Table 1: Clinical data and treatment of 9 patients with both clinical and radiological signs of brain stem involvement (site of shunt at the posterolateral margin of the foramen magnum)

Click here to view

 » References Top

1.Symon L, Kuyama H, Kendall B: Dural arteriovenous malformations of the spine. Clinical features and surgical results in 55 cases. J Neurosurg 1984;60:238-47.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Bousson V, Brunereau L, Vahedi K, Chapot R. Intracranial dural fistula as a cause of diffuse MR enhancement of the cervical spinal cord. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1999;67:227-30.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Isu T, Iwasaki Y, Akino M, Koyanagi I, Abe H. Magnetic resonance imaging in cases of spinal dural arteriovenous malformation. Neurosurgery 1989;24:919-23.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Bret P, Salzmann M, Bascoulergue Y, Guyotat J. Dural arteriovenous fistula of the posterior fossa draining into the spinal medullary veins--an unusual cause of myelopathy: Case report. Neurosurgery 1994; 35:965-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Glasser R, Masson R, Mickle JP, Peters KR. Embolization of a dural arteriovenous fistula of the ventral cervical spinal canal in a nine-year-old boy. Neurosurgery 1993;33:1089-94.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Satoh M, Kuriyama M, Fujiwara, T, Tokunaga K, Sugiu K. Brain stem ischemia from intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula: Case report. Surg Neurol 2005;64:341-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Pulido Rivas P, Villoria Medina F, Fortea Gil F, Sola RG. Dural fistula in the craniocervical junction. A case report and review of the literature. Rev Neurol 2004;38:438-42.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Kohno M, Takahashi H, Ide K, Ishijima B, Yamada K, Nemoto S. A cervical dural arteriovenous fistula in a patient presenting with radiculopathy. Case report. J Neurosurg 1996;84:119-23.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Gobin YP, Rogopoulos A, Aymard A, Khayata M, Reizine D, Chiras J, et al. Endovascular treatment of intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas with spinal perimedullary venous drainage. J Neurosurg 1992;77:718-23.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Willinsky R, TerBrugge K, Lasjaunias P, Montanera W. The variable presentations of craniocervical and cervical dural arteriovenous malformations. Surg Neurol 1990;34:118-23  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Vattoth S, Cherian J, Pandey T. Magnetic resonance angiographic demonstration of carotid-cavernous fistula using elliptical centric time resolved imaging of contrast kinetics (EC-TRICKS). Magn Reson Imaging 2007;25:1227-31  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Cognard C, Gobin YP, Pierot L, Bailly AL, Houdart E, Casasco A, et al. Cerebral dural arteriovenous fistulas: clinical and angiographic correlation with a revised classification of venous drainage. Radiology 1995;194:671-80  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Thompson BG, Doppman JL, Oldfield EH. Treatment of cranial dural arteriovenous fistulae by interruption of leptomeningeal venous drainage. J Neurosurg 1994;80:617-23.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Acute Tetraparesis with Respiratory Failure after Steroid Administration in a Patient with a Dural Arteriovenous Fistula at the Craniocervical Junction
Hisashi Takahashi,Taiki Ueshima,Daiki Goto,Tadashi Kimura,Natsuko Yuki,Yasuo Inoue,Akira Yoshioka
Internal Medicine. 2018; 57(4): 591
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 The Long and Winding Road: Thoracic Myelopathy Associated With Occipitocervical Dural Arteriovenous Fistula
Angelique Sao-Mai Do,Joseph Kapurch,Ravi Kumar,John Port,Jeffrey W. Miller,Jamie J. Van Gompel
World Neurosurgery. 2017; 108: 998.e7
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 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
Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 2015; 22(11): 1701
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Unilateral contrast-enhancing pontomedullary lesion due to an intracranial dural arteriovenous fistula with perimedullary spinal venous drainage: the exception that proves the rule
Roland Roelz,Vera Van Velthoven,Peter Reinacher,Volker Arnd Coenen,Irina Mader,Horst Urbach,Stephan Meckel
Journal of Neurosurgery. 2015; 123(6): 1534
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Cognard Type V Intracranial Dural Arteriovenous Shunt
Shinya Haryu,Toshiki Endo,Kenichi Sato,Takashi Inoue,Akira Takahashi,Teiji Tominaga
Neurosurgery. 2014; 74(1): E135
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Factors influencing the prognosis in intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas with perimedullary drainage
El Asri, A.C. and El Mostarchid, B. and Akhaddar, A. and Naama, O. and Gazzaz, M. and Boucetta, M.
World Neurosurgery. 2013; 79(1): 182-191
7 Factors Influencing the Prognosis in Intracranial Dural Arteriovenous Fistulas with Perimedullary Drainage
Abad Cherif El Asri,Brahim El Mostarchid,Ali Akhaddar,Okacha Naama,Miloudi Gazzaz,Mohamed Boucetta
World Neurosurgery. 2013; 79(1): 182
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article
Online since 20th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow