Arteriovenous Malformations Symptoms and Surgery

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are defects of the circulatory system that are generally believed to arise during embryonic or fetal development or soon after birth.  AVMs can develop in many different parts of the body, usually occurring in the brain, spleen, kung, kidney, spine, liver or brain. AVM’s that develop in the brain or spinal cord however, have a greater risk of affecting multiple parts of the body. 
 
 
What are the symptoms of Arteriovenous Malformations?
 
Symptoms of AVM often vary depending on the location of the malformation. In most cases, patients are asymptomatic and the malformation is found in an unrelated procedure.  The most common symptoms include headaches and epileptic attacks. However difficulty moving, dizziness, speech problems, and memory problems may also be indicators.
 

Is there any treatment for Arteriovenous Malformations?

Medication can often alleviate general symptoms such as headache, back pain, and seizures caused by AVMs and other vascular lesions. However, the definitive treatment for AVMs is either surgery or focused irradiation therapy. The decision to perform surgery on any individual with an AVM requires a careful consideration of possible benefits versus risks. Because so many variables are involved in treating AVMs, doctors must assess the danger posed to individual patients largely on a case-by-case basis. When an AVM is detected, patients and doctors need to consistently monitor the malformation for  signs of instability that may increase the risk of a hemorrhage occurring.
 
How is a Arteriovenous Malformation Diagnosed?

AVM’s are usually diagnosed by a MRI, MRA or CT scan.

Are Arteriovenous Malformations Dangerous?

The greatest danger posed by AVMs is a hemorrhage occurring in the patient. However this is a rare occurrence, only happening in 2-4 percent of AVM’s. Researchers believe that each year between 2 and 4 percent of all AVMs hemorrhage.