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Dural arteriovenous fistulas misdiagnosed as intracranial neoplasms: illustrative case

Tobias Rossmann, Michael Veldeman, Ville Nurminen, Rahul Raj, and Mika Niemelä


Dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVF) may induce imaging findings attributable to various disease entities including malignant neoplasms. In these cases, diagnosis and adequate treatment are often delayed and patients may be exposed to spurious treatments in addition to the risks inherent to an untreated dAVF with cortical venous drainage.


The authors report a case of a patient referred for surgical treatment of a supratentorial high-grade glioma. Thorough review of imaging data challenged the initial radiological diagnosis and led to proper angiographic workup. As a result, a high-grade dAVF was confirmed and successfully embolized. In addition to this case, we provide an extensive literature review on dAVF initially diagnosed as cerebral neoplasms, including clinical, imaging and follow-up data.


The literature provides diagnostic criteria for dAVF on magnetic resonance imaging; however, those criteria may be only partly applicable in many cases. Misdiagnosis of a neoplasm due to dAVF has been reported but remains rare, especially in supratentorial lesions. Digital subtraction angiography should be pursued to rule out an underlying vascular pathology if any doubt. This may prevent unnecessary interventions such as biopsies, pharmacological treatment and a delay in dAVF treatment, given its associated risk of hemorrhage and nonhemorrhagic neurological deficits.