What Is an AVM of the Brain?

What Is an AVM of the Brain?

An arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, is an abnormality between the artery and vein connections in the brain or spine, states Mayo Clinic. AVMs are usually due to a congenital defect in the cardiovascular vessels, that often is not noticed until the patient undergoes testing due to headaches or seizures.

Arteriovenous malformations can occur in any location within the brain, according to the American Stroke Association, and they occur in less than 1 percent of the population. Men are more likely than women to develop an AVM.

Symptoms of a brain AVM include headaches, visual or speech problems, and seizures, reports the American Stroke Association. Patients diagnosed with a brain AVM have a 50-percent greater chance of developing an intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding within the brain.

Testing used to diagnose brain AVMs include CT angiograms, MRIs of the brain and electroencephalograms, according to MedlinePlus. Treatment for an AVM depends on the findings of testing. Medications may be prescribed to prevent seizures due to an AVM, but surgery is usually required, reports Mayo Clinic.

The types of surgeries used to treat brain arteriovenous malformations include embolization to reduce the blood flow to the AVM, radiosurgery that targets the AVM with radiation in order to shrink the abnormal vessel, and open brain surgery or resection to remove the bleeding blood vessel, explains Mayo Clinic.