Many people have an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in their brains and never experience symptoms. But if the AVM bleeds, you need prompt care from the respected team of board-certified neurosurgeons at Coast Neurosurgical Associates. AVMs most often occur in your brain (cerebral AVM), but they can develop in your spinal cord or anywhere in your body. Don't wait to seek a neurological evaluation if you have headaches, seizures, dizziness, vision changes, confusion, or other AVM symptoms. Call the office in Long Beach, California, or request an appointment online today.
Tiny capillaries regulate circulation between blood vessels and all the tissues in your body. Arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood to networks of capillaries (capillary beds), and the small vessels allow blood to flow into the nearby tissues. The process works in reverse, as deoxygenated blood enters capillaries and, from there, flows into veins.
An AVM develops when arteries and veins connect together without going through a capillary bed. As a result, the blood doesn’t slow down and can’t enter (or leave) tissues. This deprives cells (like the nerves in your brain) of oxygen and nutrients.
Without capillaries, the high-pressure blood flow in your arteries goes directly into veins. The arteries become enlarged and twisted, while the veins tend to narrow. The walls in both vessels become thin and fragile, leading to ruptures or aneurysms.
Symptoms usually begin when the affected blood vessels bleed. They may suddenly rupture and cause a stroke. Or they could create a pool of blood that pushes against the surrounding brain tissues.
Depending on the area of the brain affected by the bleeding and pressure, you may have:
Spinal AVMs typically cause intense back pain, muscle weakness, and sensations like tingling and numbness.
The gold standard of treatment for an AVM is surgery or radiation therapy. After discussing the risks involved, your Coast Neurosurgical Associates surgeon may recommend:
This involves making a small keyhole to reach the brain, then removing as much of the AVM as possible while causing the least amount of damage to the surrounding nerves.
Your surgeon sends highly focused radiation into the AVM, destroying and closing the blood vessels.
Your surgeon guides a catheter through your arteries until it reaches the AVM. Then they inject substances that block blood flow in the AVM. This is often done to make surgery or radiosurgery safer.
Don’t wait to get expert care for an AVM. At the first sign of symptoms, call Coast Neurosurgical Associates or book online today.