Arteriovenous (avm) malformation

Head | Neurology | Arteriovenous (avm) malformation (Disease)


Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are defects of the circulatory system that occur during embryonic or fetal development or soon after birth.

Symptoms of AVM vary according to the location of the malformation. Such possible symptoms include: difficulties with movement or coordination, including muscle weakness and even paralysis; vertigo (dizziness); difficulties of speech known as dysarthria and communication, such as aphasia; difficulties with everyday activities, such as apraxia; abnormal sensations like numbness, tingling, or spontaneous pain; memory and thought-related problems, such as confusion, dementia or hallucinations; a loss of coordination known as ataxia, that can lead to such problems as gait disturbances; visual disturbances such as a loss of part of the visual field; an inability to control eye movement; papilledema, swelling of a part of the optic nerve known as the optic disk.

Causes and Risk factors

The genetic transmission patterns of AVM are unknown.

For women, pregnancy may start or worsen symptoms because of the increased blood flow and blood volume during pregnancy. Anyone can be born with a brain AVM, but these factors may be a risk: sex (AVMs are more common in males) and family history.

Complications of a brain AVM include: bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage); reduced oxygen to brain tissue; thin or weak blood vessels; brain damage.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Three main tests are used to diagnose brain AVMs: cerebral arteriography, computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

There are several potential treatment options for brain AVM, and the best treatment depends on the size and location of the abnormal blood vessels: surgical removal (resection), endovascular embolization and stereotactic radiosurgery. Medications may also be used to treat related symptoms, such as headaches or seizures. ...