Detection and Treatment

AVM: Detection & Treatment Options

The symptoms of arteriovenous malformation (AVM) vary widely, affecting different individuals to varying degrees. Most people with AVM experience very few or no symptoms. Their condition often becomes apparent only during treatment for an unrelated problem or during an autopsy. If no symptoms appear by the time a person is in their late 40s or early 50s, the AVM is likely to be stable and not cause any problems. However, about 12 percent of people with AVM experience symptoms vary in type and degree. Pregnancy may cause an onset or increase in symptoms related to changes in blood pressure. Some people may experience seizures throughout their lives and suffer permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. The condition is fatal in about 10 percent of cases where extensive bleeding occurs. The first symptoms of AVM are those usually associated with a stroke, caused by blood leaking into surrounding brain tissue, occurring in 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs. Hemorrhages may occur at any time throughout a person’s life, but most often affect people in their mid to late teens.

A number of signs may indicate an AVM that has not bled:

  • Confusion
  • Ear noise/buzzing in the ears (called pulsatile tinnitus)
  • Headache either localized or felt in the entire head; may resemble a migraine
  • Seizures
  • Problems walking
  • Impaired vision
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness

Neuroscience offers several treatment options for arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Symptoms such as headache and seizures may be alleviated with medication, but due to the potential danger of hemorrhage, leaving the AVM itself untreated carries some level of risk. The most common treatment option for an AVM is surgical intervention; however, surgery on the central nervous system always carries risks that the doctor will weigh carefully against the benefits in advising the patient.

Use these links to find out more about AVM: