How to Say It: Ar-teer-ee-o-vee-nus Mal-form-ay-shons
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are abnormal tangles of blood vessels. They can be found anywhere in the body. AVMs of the brain and spinal cord are the most serious.
The cause is not known.
Things that may raise the risk are:
Not all people have symptoms. Symptoms may vary in those who do. It depends on the size and location of the AVM. A person may have:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
AVMs that do not cause symptoms may be found during testing for another health problem.
The goal of treatment is to prevent bleeding and to remove the AVM.
Care depends on if the AVM has ruptured or not. Sometimes, more than 1 method is used. Care may be in a hospital.
Medicines may be given to manage an AVM that has not ruptured. They may also be given to ease:
If the AVM has ruptured, surgery may be delayed for 2 to 6 weeks. The type of surgery depends on the size and site of the AVM. Options are:
There is no way to prevent AVMs. The cause is not known.
American Stroke Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Arteriovenous malformation information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Arteriovenous-Malformation-Information-Page#disorders-r1. Accessed October 1, 2020.
Intracerebral hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/intracerebral-hemorrhage. Accessed October 1, 2020.
Nussbaum ES. Vascular malformations of the brain. Minn Med. 2013 May;96(5):40-43.
Seizure in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seizure-in-adults. Accessed October 1, 2020.
Spinal cord arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/spinal-cord-disorders/spinal-cord-arteriovenous-malformations-avms. Accessed October 1, 2020.
Vascular malformations in the brain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vascular-malformations-in-the-brain. Accessed October 1, 2020.
What is an arteriovenous malformation (AVM)? American Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/HemorrhagicBleeds/What-Is-an-Arteriovenous-Malformation-AVM_UCM_310099_Article.jsp#. Accessed October 1, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 5/21/2021