AVM

AVM Specialist
AVM or arteriovenous malformations require skilled medical intervention to prevent serious complications like hemorrhages and strokes from occurring. Acadiana Neurosurgery offers different treatment options using state-of-the-art technology to help patients in Lafayette, Louisiana, get the most appropriate treatment for optimal results.

AVM Q & A

What is AVM?

AVM stands for arteriovenous malformation, a lesion composed of tangled blood vessels that form in the brain or the spine. These blood vessels can vary in size and provide at least one direct connection between arteries (vessels that carry blood away from the heart) and veins (vessels that carry blood back to the heart). Usually, the connection between arteries and veins is made via tiny vessels called capillaries that help regulate pressure inside the vessels. Without capillaries, blood flow is much more forceful and more rapid than normal. The walls of these tangled vessels tend to be very weak and more prone to rupture, causing hemorrhages and strokes.

What symptoms do AVMs cause?

Most AVMs cause few or no symptoms unless a serious event like a stroke occurs. However, some AVMs can cause symptoms like:

  • headaches
  • seizures
  • weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs
  • loss of coordination (clumsiness)
  • dizziness
  • “whooshing” sounds in one ear
  • vision problems
  • speech problems
  • tingling, numbness or pain
  • confusion
  • problems with thinking
  • hallucinations

How are AVMs treated?

When an asymptomatic AVM is discovered during imaging tests performed for an unrelated condition or issue, observation may be recommended along with patient education to help patients recognize subtle symptoms that may develop later. AVMs that cause symptoms must be treated with surgery using one of three approaches:

  • Traditional or conventional surgery is usually used for smaller AVMs located in the superficial parts of the brain or spinal cord that can be more readily accessed without increasing the risk to surrounding tissues. AVMs located in deeper portions of the brain are typically better treated with radiosurgery or embolization.
  • Radiosurgery delivers targeted streams of radiation directly to the AVM without the need for incisions. Over time, the radiation damage causes the vessels to collapse and close, preventing blood flow.
  • Endovascular embolization uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter inserted into an artery and guided to the AVM. Once at the treatment site, an “embolus” or substance is delivered to the area to block the flow of blood to the AVM. Endovascular embolization is sometimes used in conjunction with one of the other two techniques to reduce blood flow to the AVM, so surgery is safer.
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