Multimodality treatment of intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas in the onyx era: A single center experience

Sabareesh K. Natarajan, Basavaraj Ghodke, Louis J. Kim, Danial K. Hallam, Gavin W. Britz, Laligam N. Sekhar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Background: The results of treatment of intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) since Onyx became available as an embolic agent at our institution is reported. An algorithm is presented for treatment of DAVFs with Onyx, and the role of endovascular transvenous, surgical, and radiosurgical approaches are presented. Methods: Thirty-two patients with DAVFs treated between November 2005 and November 2008 by endovascular embolization, surgery, or radiosurgery were identified by a retrospective chart review. Treatment strategies were based on the location or complexity of the fistula and the patient's clinical status. Data collected included DAVF characteristics, obliteration rates, complications, and outcomes. The results were analyzed and correlated with the treatment modality. Results: Presenting symptoms were as follows: hemorrhage (n = 12 patients), headaches (n = 12), tinnitus (n = 5), orbital symptoms (n = 7), and seizures (n = 1). Thirty patients were treated by endovascular embolization (transarterial only with Onyx-21, transvenous only with platinum coils-6, transarterial [Onyx] and transvenous [coils]-3). Five patients (4 after incomplete/failed embolization) had surgical excision of the fistula. Three patients were treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery (primary-1, 2 after incomplete/failed embolization). The locations of the fistulas were transverse sigmoid (10 patients), petrotentorial (7 patients), indirect carotid cavernous fistula (7 patients), parasagittal/falcine (3 patients), middle fossa dura (3 patients), torcula (1 patient), and anterior fossa dura (1 patient). The distribution of patients according to Borden classification was I-6, II-13, and III-13. Complete obliteration of the fistula was achieved in 26/32 (81%) patients after multimodal treatment. All surgical cases had complete obliteration. In the high-risk group with cortical venous reflux, 23/26 (89%) patients were cured. Endovascular complications included a stuck microcatheter tip with fracture of the tip in two patients and cranial nerves V and VII palsies in one patient. At last follow-up (range 136 months), 24 patients had modified Rankin score of 02, 5 patients had modified Rankin score of 35, and 3 patients were dead. Two patients died during admission due to the insult of the hemorrhage, and one died after an accidental fall with subsequent traumatic subdural hematoma. Conclusions: Multimodality treatment of DAVFs has high success rates for cure at our center. Transarterial embolization with Onyx has become the primary treatment for intracranial DAVFs at our center and is associated with high safety profile and efficacy. Transvenous coil embolization is still preferred in DAVFs with supply from arterial branches supplying cranial nerves, predominant internal carotid artery feeders and potential extracranialintracranial collateral anastomosis. In our series, patients with incompletely treated DAVFs were treated with surgery and those with partially treated type I fistulas had radiosurgery for palliation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-379
Number of pages15
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Dural arteriovenous fistula
  • Embolization
  • Multimodality treatment
  • Onyx
  • Radiosurgery
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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