Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Warning Signs Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

AVM Treatment

A cerebral arteriovenous malformation may not be detected until it bleeds. A small cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that is not bleeding may not require treatment. Treatment of a cerebral AVM depends on the size of the AVM, location, and a person's age. A bleeding cerebral arteriovenous malformation usually causes blood to collect in the space between the brain and the lining to the brain. This bleeding is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

A ruptured cerebral arteriovenous malformation is usually treated with surgery. During surgical resection, a neurosurgeon places a tiny clip on the AVM in order to stop blood from flowing to it, and then the malformation is carefully removed. A piece of the skull is removed by the neurosurgeon to provide access to the arteriovenous malformation for surgical clipping. Another surgical treatment, endovascular embolization, involves placing a small plug into the arteriovenous malformation. A catheter is threaded to the arteriovenous malformation after it is inserted into an artery in the groin. The plug is delivered through the catheter. Once the plug is placed in the artery that supplies the malformation, blood stops flowing into it. Considerable rehabilitation may be required for those who experience damage to the brain from a ruptured cerebral arteriovenous malformation.

Treatment for cerebral arteriovenous malformation may include:

  • Surgery for cerebral arteriovenous malformation
    • A clip closes the abnormal communication between the artery and the vein
    • The arteriovenous malformation is removed by the surgeon.
  • Endovascular embolization
  • Focal beam radiation for cerebral arteriovenous malformation:
    • Small doses of radiation gradually close the aneurysm.

Treatment for subarachnoid hemorrhage may include:

AVM Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformation.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

AVM Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat cerebral arteriovenous malformation:

Continue to AVM Warning Signs

Last Updated: Jun 6, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed AVM References
  1. Choi JH, Mohr JP. Brain arteriovenous malformations in adults. Lancet Neurol. 2005 May;4(5):299-308. [15847843]
  2. Kubis N, Levy BI. Understanding angiogenesis: a clue for understanding vascular malformations. J Neuroradiol. 2004 Dec;31(5):365-8. [15687953]
  3. Zhao J, Wang S, Li J, Qi W, Sui D, Zhao Y. Clinical characteristics and surgical results of patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations. Surg Neurol. 2005 Feb;63(2):156-61. [15680660]
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