Surgical treatment of anterior cranial fossa dural arterio-venous fistulas (DAVFs)

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:823–830

Anterior cranial fossa dural arterio-venous fistulas (DAVFs) represent 6% of all intracranial DAVFs; characteristically they show an aggressive behaviour with high risk of intracranial haemorrhage. Peculiar anatomical features, such as feeding by the ethmoidal arteries and the pattern of venous drainage (frequently with varices that mimic aneurysmal dilatation), can be evaluated in detail only by digital subtraction angiography (DSA), which represents the Bgold standard^ in the diagnosis of such cranial fistulas. Recent technological developments in endovascular management of this type of DAVF have partially reduced the morbidity risk related to this modality of treatment. Our purpose is to present our experience in the surgical management of 14 patients with anterior cranial fossa DAVFs, with attention paid to the possible role of preoperative embolisation in these cases and to the surgical technique.

Method Between 1999 and 2015, 14 patients with anterior cranial fossa DAVFs were submitted to surgery in two neurosurgical departments; the mean age was 63 years old; nine DAVFs caused intracranial haemorrhage (subarachnoid haemorrhage in three cases, intracerebral haemorrhage in six cases). Pre-operative embolisation was attempted in an early case and was successfully done in one recent case. In all patients, the surgical approach chosen was a pterional craniotomy with a lowmargin on the frontal bone in order to gain the exposure of the anterior cranial fossa and especially of the olphactory groove region; the resection of the falx at its insertion on the crista galli was needed in five cases in order to get access to the contralateral afferent vessels. Cauterisation of all the dural feeders on and around the lamina cribrosa was needed in all cases; venous dilatations were evident in eight patients (in seven out of nine patients with ruptured DAVF and in one out of five patients with unrupturedDAVF) andwere removed in all cases. One patient harboured an ophthalmic artery aneurysm, which was excluded by clipping.

Results One patient died 5 days after surgery due to the severity of the pre-operative haemorrhage. Postoperative DSA showed the disappearance of the DAVF and of the venous pseudo-aneurysms in all cases. Clinical outcome was favourable (without neurological deficits) in 11 patients; three patients presented an unfavourable clinical outcome, due to the severity of the initial haemorrhage.

Conclusions Surgical exclusion of the anterior cranial fossa DAVFs still represents the gold standard for such lesions, due to low post-operative morbidity and to complete protection against future rebleedings; endovascular techniques may help the surgeon in complex cases.