Shell with a blunt tip, deep sutures and 5-6 tumid whorls which tend to be flattened peripherally. Surface marked with lattice of spiral ridges (10-15 on the last whorl, apical 2-3 whorls are smooth) and opisthocline costae (19-23 on the last whorl, 17-20 on the penultimate whorl). No costae at the base of the last whorl. Outer lip opisthocline and with an anal sinus. Umbilicus absent. Last whorl occupies two thirds of the shell height, the aperture rather more than one third. Aperture with a prominent labial varix, except in juvenile shells.
Up to 3 x 1.8 mm.
Glossy cream, brownish on base and often alongside varix.
The snout is deeply bifid but otherwise the body of the animal resembles that of other alvania species. Colour white with yellow and chalk-white spots. One metapodial tentacle.
Sublittorally from 15 to 100 m deep, on soft bottoms.
Mainly off north west and north Scotland and off the west coast of Ireland (Distr. A. abyssicola); occasionally, dead shells may be found elsewhere. The species ranges from northern Norway to the Mediterranean.