Surgical and endovascular flow disconnection of intracranial pial single-channel arteriovenous fistulae

Brian L. Hoh, Christopher M. Putman, Ronald F. Budzik, Christopher S. Ogilvy, Wendy Elder, Robert F. Spetzler, H. Hunt Batjer, Duke S. Samson, John McMahon, Robert H. Rosenwasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Intracranial pial single-channel arteriovenous (AV) fistulae are rare vascular lesions of the brain. They differ from AV malformations in that they lack a true "nidus" and are composed of one or more direct arterial connections to a single venous channel. They often are associated with a venous varix because of their high-flow nature. The pathological aspects of pial AV fistulae arise from their high-flow dynamics; therefore, we think that disconnection of the AV shunt is enough to obliterate the lesion, and that lesion resection is unnecessary. Flow disconnection can be accomplished via surgical or endovascular means. Certain lesions have angiogeometric configurations, however, that are unfavorable for endovascular treatment. We reviewed the experience in our combined neurosurgical and neuroendovascular unit in the treatment of patients with pial single-channel AV fistulae. METHODS: From 1991 to 1999, the combined neurovascular unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital treated nine consecutive patients with nontraumatic intracranial pial single-channel AV fistulae. Carotid-cavernous fistulae and vein of Galen malformations were excluded from this analysis. The combined neurovascular team planned the treatment strategy for each patient on the basis of the anatomic location and the angiogeometry of each lesion. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records, office charts, operative reports, endovascular reports, and x-rays for each patient. Radiographic outcome was assessed by use of posttreatment angiography. Clinical outcome was assessed by an independent nurse practitioner. RESULTS: A treatment strategy of flow disconnection was used in all nine patients and was accomplished surgically in six patients, endovascularly in two patients, and by combined techniques in one patient. All nine lesions were completely obliterated as demonstrated radiographically, including obliteration of the venous varices associated with three of the lesions. With a mean long-term clinical follow-up of 3.2 years (range, 0.3-8.4 yr), four patients were neurologically excellent with no deficits, two patients had pretreatment neurological deficits that did not worsen after treatment, one patient had transient dysphonia and dysphagia postoperatively that resolved, one patient had mild weakness after treatment, and one patient had moderate homonymous hemianopia after treatment. CONCLUSION: Single-channel pial AV fistulae can be treated by a strategy of flow disconnection. Resection of the lesion is not necessary. Flow disconnection can be accomplished either surgically or endovascularly; however, certain angiogeometric configurations are more favorable for surgical treatment. An experienced combined neurosurgical and neuroendovascular team can carefully determine the most appropriate treatment modality on the basis of patient-specific and angiospecific factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1351-1364
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Arteriovenous fistula
  • Arteriovenous malformation
  • Embolization
  • Endovascular
  • Guglielmi detachable coil
  • Hemorrhage
  • Venous varix

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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