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Original research
Deep venous communication in vein of Galen malformations: incidence, Imaging, and Implications for treatment


Background Failure to appreciate deep venous drainage pathways is a major cause of severe complications in the endovascular treatment of vein of Galen aneurysmal malformations (VOGMs).

Objective To report deep venous drainage patterns in patients with VOGM, emphasizing the internal cerebral veins, and to describe the challenges in evaluating these.

Methods Patients with VOGM presenting to our institute between 2000 and 2018 were retrospectively analyzed. Patients with complete and good quality imaging datasets were included in the study. Three neuroradiologists with expertise in the subject independently analyzed the deep venous drainage patterns on multi-sequence MRI and digital subtraction angiography. Follow-up imaging studies were analyzed for alterations in deep venous drainage patterns that occurred following endovascular treatment. Descriptive statistics were used to report findings.

Results Twenty-three patients had optimal quality MRI imaging and 25 had optimal quality DSA imaging available. In 14/23 (61%) patients, internal cerebral vein (ICV) communication could be reliably identified on MRI and in 8/25 (32%) patients on DSA. Deep venous communication with the VOGM was demonstrated in 8/26 (30.8%) patients. One (3.8%) patient demonstrated ICV communication with the VOGM only on postoperative imaging, while in 2 (8%) patients the ICV drainage route changed from VOGM to alternative pathways after the procedure. Other variant pathways included lateral mesencephalic vein, superior or inferior sagittal sinus, anterior mesencephalic vein, tentorial sinus, deep Sylvian vein, and superior vermian vein.

Conclusion ICV communication with the VOGM is not uncommon and requires dedicated preprocedural imaging to identify it. However, there are significant challenges in assessing this communication in the presence of high-flow fistulae, vessel tortuosity and size, and contrast limitations in this population.

  • angiography
  • MRI
  • vascular malformation
  • arteriovenous malformation
  • intervention

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