Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)

Understanding AVMs

Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between blood vessels. It happens when arteries connect directly to veins without first sending blood through tiny capillaries. An AVM can look like a tangle of blood vessels. They form anywhere on your body, but most often form in or around the brain and along the spinal cord.  


Causes & Risk Factors

We don’t understand what causes AVMs. Some doctors believe that most brain AVMs emerge during fetal development, meaning people who have an AVM were born with it and appear later as the child ages.  Children born with an AVM condition may have a bluish tint to their skin.  This is due to the absence of oxygenated blood circulating through the body.  Occasionally, AVMs form later in life.

Anyone can be born with a brain AVM, but doctors say AVMs are more common in males.  People  probably don’t inherit an AVM from their parents, and they probably won’t pass one on to their children.



If you have an AVM, you may not realize it. In fact, many AVMs cause no problems until it ruptures, resulting in bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage.) But sometimes an AVM causes noticeable symptoms. An AVM in your head can cause headaches, confusion and seizures. It can cause buzzing or whooshing noises in your ear. You may have dizziness or other vision problems. An AVM in your head or spine can cause weakness, numbness, balance issues and pain.


AVM Dangers

An AVM can keep your brain or your spinal cord from getting enough oxygenated blood. An AVM also may rupture and let blood leak out. That can cause you to have a stroke. Or, a large pool of blood may press harmfully against your brain or spinal cord. A bleeding AVM is a medical emergency.




AVMs are diagnosed primarily by a CT scan or MRI, and are treated by neurosurgeons through methods including endovascular embolization and gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery. Treatment for brain AVMs can be symptomatic, and patients should be followed by a neurologist for any seizures, headaches, or focal neurologic deficits.


Treatment for arteriovenous malformation varies on the size and type of your AVM, along with the symptoms it may be causing.  The NeuroMedical Center is home to a multi-disciplinary team of neurological specialists highly-experienced in AVM diagnosis and treatment. Our AVM treatment teams consist of neurosurgeons who specialize in endovascular therapy and offer advanced training in the use of minimally-invasive stereotactic techniques and equipment, including the Gamma Knife Icon, used to treat many neurological conditions including AVMs.  These neurosurgeons collaborate with an expert team of neurologists who specialize in the medical management of brain AVMs.  Ensure that you receive the very best treatment for AVM by choosing The NeuroMedical Center.   Schedule an appointment by calling us today (225) 768-2050 or by requesting an appointment online.