Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are tangles of abnormal blood vessels. They can form wherever arteries and veins exist. They can be found anywhere in the body. AVMs of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) are the most serious.
You may need to see a specialist for care. The goals of care are to remove or damage the AVM, and prevent bleeding.
Care depends on if the AVM has ruptured or not. Sometimes, more than one method is used. Care may be in a hospital.
Medicines help ease symptoms. They also manage problems of an AVM that hasn’t ruptured. Medicines treat:
Pressure inside the skull
High blood pressure
If the AVM ruptured, surgery may be delayed for 2-6 weeks. The type depends on the size and site of the AVM. Options include:
Microsurgery—An operation to remove the AVM through a hole in the skull. A special microscope will help the surgeon see the area.
Embolization—A tube is inserted through the skin. It is passed through arteries until it reaches the AVM. A substance is passed to the area. It will block off blood flow to the AVM. This is a more common option with AVMs found deeper in the brain.
Radiosurgery—A beam of radiation is focused on the AVM. It destroys the blood vessel walls leading up to the AVM. This will block off blood flow to AVM. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) delivers radiation to an exact site. It decreases damage to nearby tissue.
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. Updated June 15, 2018. Accessed July 11, 2018.
Geibprasert S, Pongpech S, Jiarakongmun P, Shroff MM, Armstrong DC, Krings T. Radiologic assessment of brain arteriovenous malformations: what clinicians need to know.
Ogilvy CS, Stieg PE, Awad I, et al. AHA Scientific Statement: Recommendations for the management of intracranial arteriovenous malformations: a statement for healthcare professionals from a special writing group of the Stroke Council, American Stroke Association.