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Treatment / Arteriovenous Malformation Embolization

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) refer to abnormal connections between arteries and veins. AVMs commonly occur in the central nervous system, but can appear in any location. AVMs are typically congenital, meaning people are born with them.

Hemorrhaging in the brain from an AVM may result in a stoke. While the risk of rupture is low, it increases over time (the average risk is 2-4% per year). Treatment of AVMs in otherwise healthy people is recommended.

While there is nothing you can do to prevent an arteriovenous malformation, by recognizing symptoms and getting prompt medical attention you can reduce the risk of having a stoke or spinal damage.

Some people may experience no symptoms at all. Others may have some of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness or paralysis in part of the body
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Memory problems
  • Speech problems
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Hearing a whooshing noise

Am I a Candidate for Arteriovenous Malformation Embolization?

Your doctor will meet with you to discuss your medical history and perform diagnostic testing, which may include a CT angiography or MR angiography to screen for AVM. If diagnostic testing confirms AVM you and your physician will discuss the most appropriate treatment for your condition depending on your age, health, and the size and location of the abnormal blood vessels.

In patients with large AVMs endovascular embolization is often used prior to other surgical treatments to make the procedure safer by reducing the size of the AVM or the likelihood of bleeding.

What to Expect from the Procedure

During the procedure your interventional radiologist will pass a catheter through the groin up to the artery leading to the AVM and inject a material into these arteries. The injection shuts off the artery and reduces flow of blood through the AVM.

The treatment may be successful on its own, or it may be combined with surgery. The extent of treatment required is usually judged by the complexity of the AVM and will often be ‘staged’ if more than one session is expected.

Many AVMs will require some combination of therapies, including radiation therapy, endovascular embolization, and surgical removal. Embolization may reduce the size of the AVM to make surgical removal easier or more effective.

New liquid embolic agents are increasing the rate at which embolization can be effective alone.

 

Whether or not you are a candidate for arteriovenous malformation embolization will depend on your diagnosis and a consultation with your interventional radiologist. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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