Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:53 by admin
Arteriovenous Malformations

Arteriovenousmalformations (AVMs) are lesions or small defects in the circulatory system that are thought to develop during or soon after birth.  These lesions develop primarily in the brain and spinal cord and manifest themselves with a variety of symptoms.  Neurological arteriovenous malformations cause symptoms of varying severity, including seizures and headaches.  More specific AVM symptoms would include difficulty with spatial tasks, dizziness, difficulty understanding language, loss of vision, loss of coordination, and dementia.

Medication can alleviate generalized symptoms such as headaches, seizures and pains, although more specialized treatment is required for the more differentiated symptoms of AVMs.  The signal treatment for neurological arteriovenous malformations is surgery and focused irradiation therapy.  Annually, approximately 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs hemorrhage, so surgery is for many an imperative. 

Often times the patient will remain unaware that an AVM is bleeding, and these episodes are not significant enough to cause severe brain damage.  When patients with AVMs hemorrhage, then some sort of neurological deficit will usually become apparent, causing a speech defect or difficulty with walking.  Fatal bleeding episodes occur as well in a very small percentage of the population with AVMs, so patients with arteriovenous malformations must be treated with extreme sensitivity to forestall the possibility of a hemorrhage.


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