Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) are the defects in your vascular system. The vascular system includes veins, arteries, and capillaries. Veins help in carrying the blood back to the heart. Capillaries help in connecting the veins and arteries together. Arteries help in carrying blood away from the heart to other organs of the body. An AVM is a pile or tangle of arteries and veins. Pulmonary AVM consists of abnormal connections between the pulmonary arteries and pulmonary veins. This is also referred to as arteriovenous fistulae.
AVMs most commonly occur in the brain or spinal cords. Comparatively, brain AVMs are very rare and affect less than one percent of the population. AVM most commonly occurs in young adults, the deaths occurring in 10 to 15% of the patients.
Although the cause of AVM is not clear, some of the causes include:
The main goal of the treatment is to prevent hemorrhage; the treatment would also focus on reducing the neurological complications such as seizures. Your doctor would determine the appropriate treatment based on your symptoms and diagnostic results.Medications
Your doctor would prescribe medications to treat the symptoms such as headaches or seizures.
You must avoid activities that elevate your blood pressure and must avoid blood thinning agents such as warfarin.
Complications associated with AVM include:
Your neurologist would review your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. Tests used for diagnosing AV malformations include:
Brain tumor surgery is considered to be the gold standard treatment for the brain AVM. There are three types of surgical procedures:
Resection: if you have a rupture in the AVM, then conventional AVM brain surgery is opted for the removal of the AVM. Resection is performed when the AVM can be removed with little risk of hemorrhage or seizures. AVMs that are deep pose a higher risk of complications so; your doctor would recommend other treatment options.
This treatment would be beneficial if the AVMs are small which are difficult for removing with a conventional surgery.
Do not get worried after being diagnosed with AVM, have little control over your health and improve quality of life just by following these simple steps:
If you have an AVM in brain, it would not probably present any signs and symptoms until the AVM ruptures; the first sign includes hemorrhage.
If there is no hemorrhage the signs and symptoms would include:
More serious signs and symptoms include:
These symptoms may begin at any age usually between ages 10 and 40. AVM can cause brain damage over time to time. After reaching middle age, brain AVM tend to remain stable and are less likely to cause any symptoms.
Pregnant women have worsened symptoms due to the alterations in blood volume and blood pressure.
Call your doctor immediately if you notice any signs and symptoms such as seizures, headaches or other symptoms. It is a medical emergency if the brain is bleeding.