What is an arteriovenous malformation?
Cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs for short) are defects in the circulatory system. Composed of a tangle of arteries and veins in the brain, AVMs are relatively rare and are believed to be congenital and formed during fetal development. In rare instances, an injury to the brain may cause an AVM. Symptoms can include bleeding in the brain, seizures, severe headaches and neurological deficits.
Facts about arteriovenous malformations of the brain
- Between 10,000 and 12,000 new patients are diagnosed with AVMs in the U.S. each year.
- For a small percentage of those diagnosed, the AVM will be life-threatening or debilitating.
- Recent research suggests AVMs may cause subtle learning or behavioral disorders in childhood.
- Symptoms caused by AVMs may occur at any age.
- Diagnosis is generally made between the ages of 20 and 40, as neurological damage builds over time.
- Pregnancy may cause a sudden onset of symptoms due to increased blood volume and pressure.
- AVMs damage the brain by reducing oxygen flow to vital areas, bleeding into surrounding tissues, and compressing or displacing parts of the brain.