State-of-the-art AVM Surgery
A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels inside the brain. This tangle can compromise blood flow to the surrounding brain tissue and eventually result in hemorrhage and brain damage. At Barrow Neurological Institute, we offer complete diagnosis and treatment for this condition. Using the most advanced techniques, Dr. Peter Nakaji can perform AVM surgery to remove the abnormal blood vessels. Alternatively, he may seal off the AVM or treat it with radiation. To learn more about AVM surgery, contact our Phoenix office today.
About Brain AVMs
An AVM can occur in any of the four lobes of the brain, the back of the brain, brain stem, or ventricles (the spaces deep within the brain where cerebrospinal fluid production occurs). Brain AVMs are often present at birth, although symptoms most commonly appear between ages 10 and 40. The condition is more common in males than in females.
Symptoms of an AVM
Brain hemorrhage is the most common symptom of an AVM. The abnormal blood vessels are already weak, and they dilate with time. Eventually, the constant pressure of the circulating blood could cause a leak. Microscopic hemorrhages require treatment, but they do not typically cause lasting harm. Major bleeding, however, can cause temporary or permanent brain damage. The signs of an AVM hemorrhage include weakness or paralysis of the limbs, speech difficulties, memory loss, and impaired vision.
In many cases, a hemorrhage is the first sign of a brain AVM. However, some patients may exhibit symptoms preceding a hemorrhage, such as:
- Progressive muscle weakness
- Difficulties with balance
- Problems with speech or understanding others
- A rushing sound in the skull
Diagnosing Brain AVM
If you or a loved one show symptoms of an AVM, Dr. Nakaji can use several tests to make a definitive diagnosis. Diagnostic methods include:
- CT scan: With a series of digital x-rays, Dr. Nakaji can obtain a three-dimensional image of your brain that reveals the cause of symptoms.
- MRI: Magnetic energy and radio waves can often provide even more detailed images than a CT scan. An MRI can also pinpoint the exact location of an AVM.
- Cerebral arteriography: Dr. Nakaji will inject your blood vessels with a special dye, visible under an x-ray. He will then thread a catheter through the arteries and into the brain. This process can reveal the location and positioning of the AVM.
Treatment for AVM
If you or your loved one is diagnosed with an AVM, treatment will vary depending on symptoms, the location of the blood vessels, and the size of the cluster. Craniotomy is the most common and, often, the most effective treatment. During this surgery, Dr. Nakaji removes a small portion of the skull. With microscopic imaging, he will place clips on the blood vessels to seal them from the rest of your brain. Next, he will remove the AVM, replace the section of the skull, and close the incisions. This is similar to a treatment used to treat aneurysms.
If the AVM is located deeper in the brain, Dr. Nakaji may recommend endovascular coiling. Using a technique much like cerebral arteriography, he will thread a catheter through the blood vessels to the brain. Next, he will release microscopic coils to seal off the AVM from the rest of the brain. This treatment can reduce symptoms by directing blood to the surrounding tissues.
Finally, if the patient has a very small AVM, the surgeon may recommend stereotactic radiosurgery. He will treat the blood vessels with radiation, and in one to three years, they can seal on their own.
Schedule an Appointment
If you or your loved one exhibits the symptoms of a brain AVM, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Dr. Nakaji will carefully determine the optimal treatment for your long-term health. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.