Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)

What Is an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)?

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Causes and Symptoms of Arteriovenous Malformations of the Brain

Researchers have not definitively concluded what the causes of AVMs are, but suspect that AVMs of the brain usually occur during fetal development and sometimes as a result of spine or brain trauma.

Some cerebral AVMs don’t have any symptoms, and many don’t have symptoms until they rupture. An AVM that hasn’t ruptured may have symptoms particular to its location:

  • Vision problems if the AVM is in the brain’s visual areas
  • Head pains
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis of arms or legs if the AVM is the motor control area
  • Balance problems
  • Numbness or paralysis of your face

If an arteriovenous malformation in the brain ruptures, an intracranial hemorrhage leading to a stroke can result. Please seek emergency medical treatment right away if you have ruptured AVM (or stroke) symptoms:

  • Numbness in parts of the body
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Speech problems
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Confusion

An untreated cerebral AVM can rupture and lead to a severe or fatal stroke. A small percentage of AVMs cause life-threatening, neurological problems. Talk with an experienced neurospecialist about your risks and treatment options.

Diagnosis of Arteriovenous Malformation

Since many AVMs don’t have symptoms, they are often diagnosed as part of investigating another condition. Typically, AVMs are diagnosed using an MRI. AVMs can also be seen on CT scans or angiograms. Also, cerebral AVMs can sometimes be associated with brain aneurysms, which carry their own related risks.

Treatments for Arteriovenous Malformations

At NSPC, we offer many different spinal cord and brain AVM treatment options. Most of the time, AVMs can be treated with minimally invasive techniques. Arteriovenous malformation treatments can include surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, endovascular embolization, observation or a combination of these treatments. Our group has specialty experience with all the modalities of brain and spinal cord AVM treatment. We look at each individual’s health history along with the size, location and make-up of the AVM to help you determine the best treatment option.

Embolization for Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformations

Embolization is a minimally invasive neuroendovascular procedure to treat AVMs. One of our board-certified expert cerebrovascular neurosurgeons inserts a catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube) into a leg artery, guides it through to the brain using fluoroscopic imaging and injects materials, such as glue or a soft metal coil, to help close off the AVM in the brain.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery for Arteriovenous Malformations

Stereotactic radiosurgery causes the abnormal blood vessels to clot over time, reducing the risk of bleeding. Stereotactic Radiosurgery for AVMs is a one-day, super-targeted radiation treatment that will most often cure the AVM and cause all of its arteries to close. If, after a time, the AVM is still present, the treatment can be repeated. This state-of-the-art procedure is particularly useful for AVMs that are difficult to reach with traditional open surgery.

Resection of Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation

Alternatively, we may recommend removing the AVM surgically, especially if the AVM is small and located on or near the surface of the brain. In a resection of cerebral arteriovenous malformation procedure, the patient is under general anesthesia. The neurosurgeon first performs a craniotomy to open the skull, then opens the dura (membrane covering the brain), and removes the abnormal spaghetti-like tangle of enlarged blood vessels.

Our prestigious medical care facilities in the Long Island and New York areas provide first-class treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformations. Our skilled cerebrovascular neurosurgeons are experienced in providing top-notch minimally invasive procedures to treat AVMs of the brain and spine.

Related NSPC Center

Neuroendovascular Center

NSPC provides world-class care for cerebrovascular conditions such as brain aneurysms, cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), stroke, and carotid stenosis. Our neuroendovascular surgeons are experienced in minimally invasive procedures and traditional surgeries — so you have the best treatment options available.

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