Dural arteriovenous fistulas of the hypoglossal canal: systematic review on imaging anatomy, clinical findings, and endovascular management

Björn Spittau, Diego San Millán, Saad El-Sherifi, Claudia Hader, Tejinder Pal Singh, Edith Motschall, Werner Vach, Horst Urbach, Stephan Meckel
Journal of Neurosurgery 2015, 122 (4): 883-903
Dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) of the hypoglossal canal (HCDAVFs) are rare and display a complex angiographic anatomy. Hitherto, they have been referred to as various entities (for example, "marginal sinus DAVFs") solely described in case reports or small series. In this in-depth review of HCDAVF, the authors describe clinical and imaging findings, as well as treatment strategies and subsequent outcomes, based on a systematic literature review supplemented by their own cases (120 cases total). Further, the involved craniocervical venous anatomy with variable venous anastomoses is summarized. Hypoglossal canal DAVFs consist of a fistulous pouch involving the anterior condylar confluence and/or anterior condylar vein with a variable intraosseous component. Three major types of venous drainage are associated with distinct clinical patterns: Type 1, with anterograde drainage (62.5%), mostly presents with pulsatile tinnitus; Type 2, with retrograde drainage to the cavernous sinus and/or orbital veins (23.3%), is associated with ocular symptoms and may mimic cavernous sinus DAVF; and Type 3, with cortical and/or perimedullary drainage (14.2%), presents with either hemorrhage or cervical myelopathy. For Types 1 and 2 HCDAVF, transvenous embolization demonstrates high safety and efficacy (2.9% morbidity, 92.7% total occlusion). Understanding the complex venous anatomy is crucial for planning alternative approaches if standard transjugular access is impossible. Transarterial embolization or surgical disconnection (morbidity 13.3%-16.7%) should be reserved for Type 3 HCDAVFs or lesions with poor venous access. A conservative strategy could be appropriate in Type 1 HCDAVF for which spontaneous regression (5.8%) may be observed.

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