incredible-marketing Arrow

Diagnosis / Spinal Dural Fistula

What is a Spinal Dural Fistula?

“Fistula” means abnormal connection between two structures that are normally not connected.   A spinal fistula, particularly spinal dural fistula, is usually an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein that are located near the covering of the spinal cord. This covering is called the dura, hence the name “spinal dural arteriovenous fistula”. When a fistula forms, blood from an artery under high pressure goes directly into a vein, which is low pressure. This causes dysfunction of the spinal cord by congesting the venous system.

What are the Symptoms of a Spinal Dural Fistula?

Spinal dural fistulas prevent normal spinal cord blood circulation. The veins which drain the spinal cord are connected to veins that sit on the dura; a spinal dural fistula vein can be connected, in a reverse way to spinal cord veins, causing congestion (backup) of fistula blood into spinal cord veins. This backup of blood prevents the spinal cord from draining blood properly causing the spinal cord to swell and malfunction.

As the spinal cord swelling gradually develops, patients can experience the following:

  • Leg weakness
  • Back and leg pain
  • Bladder and bowel issues

How is a Spinal Dural Fistula Diagnosed?

The most common way a fistula is diagnosed is by MRI. An MRI of a patient with a dural fistula typically shows large veins surrounding the spinal cord. The cord may show evidence of swelling (edema) and enhancement if MRI contrast is given.

Once the diagnosis is made, a spinal angiogram will be conducted to identify the location of the fistula. This is a minimally invasive procedure used to study the anatomy of the fistula and determine the treatment options.

IVC’s Treatment for Spinal Dural Fistulas

The majority of fistulas can be treated either through endovascular techniques or by surgery.

At IVC, we offer a minimally invasive treatment option. Spinal arteriovenous malformation embolization uses a catheter to deliver a glue-like substance directly to the site of the fistula disrupting the blood flow.

For more information on embolization or to make an appointment for a consultation, please call IVC at 503-612-0498.

What Our Patients Are Saying

Read More

We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

We would like to thank you for the trust you have given us over the years, participating in your healthcare needs has been a privilege.

To assist in a smooth transition to a new provider, you may access your records from your MyHealth account or request a copy of medical records by clicking the link below and completing the Release of Information form.

Medical Records Release Form

Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

This will close in 0 seconds