What is a brain AVM?
A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels (arteries and veins) in the brain or on its surface.
Facts about AVM
- More common in males than in females
- Are usually congenital but not hereditary
- Don’t grow or change much but involved vessels may dilate or shrink
- Symptoms emerge between ages 10 and 40
- After crossing middle age, brain AVMs remain stable and are less likely to cause symptoms
Causes of AVM
The cause of brain AVM is unknown, but it is believed to be a congenital fault.
Risk factors of AVM
Although it is believed to a congenital abnormality but following factors increases the risk:
- Being male
- Having a family history
Symptoms of AVM
Brain AVM generally does not cause any signs or symptoms until it ruptures and result in bleeding in the brain (haemorrhage). But some people may experience following signs and symptoms depending on the location of AVM:
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Focal or generalized seizures
- Severe or consistent headache
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or paralysis
- Vision loss
- Difficulty speaking
- Confusion or inability to understand others
- Severe unsteadiness
How are AVMs diagnosed?
Thorough physical examination of the patient along with following diagnostic procedures helps the physician to diagnose AVM:
- Computed tomography (CT) of the brain
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain
- Cerebral angiogram
- Cerebral arteriography
Treatment of AVM
Treatment of AVM depends upon its ruptured or unruptured state along with the area of the brain affected and size of AVM. Treatment may include:
- Medical therapy: Conservative medical management or just observation and regular follow up with neurosurgeon is indicated in individuals with asymptomatic
- Surgery: Ruptured AVM need to be surgically removed to eliminate any possibility of further bleeding.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery: It is indicated in AVM that is not too large, but is in an area that’s difficult to reach by regular surgery.
- Interventional neuroradiology/endovascular neurosurgery
- Endovascular embolization