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Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)

What is an AVM?

A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is one of four types of congenital blood vessel abnormality that occurs in about 0.1 percent of the population. AVMs are formed at about 8 weeks gestation and consist of an abnormal connection of arteries to veins. This connection causes abnormal blood flow in and around the AVM, which increases the risk of stroke, bleeding, seizures and other neurological problems. While they represent only 1-2 percent of strokes they lesions that need to be recognized and managed.


How is an AVM diagnosed?

Brain AVMs are diagnosed in adults and children. Patients will typically present with intracranial hemorrhage, seizure, headache or focal neurologic problems. Children are more likely to present with hemorrhage than adults. AVMs are typically first discovered on a head CT or MRI of the brain. Cerebral angiography is commonly recommended for definitive diagnosis and analysis of the lesion in order to direct appropriate care.

How are AVMs treated?

A number of factors are considered in the decision to treat AVMs and the therapy chosen. Surgery, Radiosurgery and Embolization (treatment through a catheter or tube placed into the blood vessels of the AVM) are common modalities that are used when a decision to treat is prescribed. In some cases, AVM's are observed over time and not treated. At Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center,  we are experts at diagnosing and treating adults and children with AVMs. Through our multidisciplinary center, we provide resources for comprehensive treatment, long-term follow-up and support for patients and families.

For more information, please contact us.

Page reviewed on: Sep 02, 2014

Page reviewed by: Robert J. Singer, MD

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