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Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)

About Arteriovenous Malformations

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of blood vessels that disrupts blood flow in the brain. A congenital defect, it is the leading cause of stroke in young people.

Diagnosis
MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland, Michigan has state-of-the-art technology for detecting and diagnosing arteriovenous malformation. If your doctor suspects you have this defect, he may refer you to one of our board-certified neurosurgeons (see the listed of doctors located at the right). Your doctor or specialist may use some of the following methods to arrive at a diagnosis:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – This diagnostic tool, which uses magnetic scanning, is useful in diagnosing AVM because it can “see” through the bones of the skull to the tissue underneath.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan – Also known as a CAT scan, this advanced x-ray technology provides a series of detailed pictures of tissues, bone and blood vessels.
  • Arteriogram – This x-ray technology relies on an injection of a special “dye” (contrast medium) to provide an image of the blood vessels in the brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Arteriogram (MRA) – This combines the advantages of both MRI and arteriogram technologies.

Treatment Options
Treatment for arteriovenous malformation depends on a number of factors, including the patient’s age and general health. If you are diagnosed with AVM, your physician may recommend any one or a combination of the following treatment options:

Gamma Knife surgery – A highly specialized technology with sub-millimeter accuracy, this relies on computer-assisted planning to target and then destroy the malformation with high-energy radiation. This type of surgery doesn’t require opening the skull or damaging other brain tissue, yet it has a success rate of about 85 percent within two years of treatment, offering new hope to many AVM patients in Michigan and Western Ontario.

Embolization – This seals off the malformation with a glue-like substance injected into the blood vessels of the brain through a tiny tube (catheter) inserted in a leg artery and  guided by x-ray to the location being treated.

Surgery – Called a craniotomy, a neurosurgeon makes an opening in the skull to remove all or as much of the malformation as possible through microsurgery.

Linear accelerator radiotherapy – A specialized technology with 2-millimeter accuracy that uses three-dimensional computer-aided planning to locate and treat the malformation.  Planning and treatment for this condition is available at our Saginaw Radiation Oncology Center.

The MidMichigan Difference

A recognized leader in neuroscience and cancer care in Michigan.

  • Board-certified neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists specially trained and experienced in a variety of treatment methods, including Gamma Knife® surgery.
  • Three hospitals and four radiation oncology centers located in safe and friendly communities in the middle of Michigan

Gamma Knife® is a registered trademark of Elekta Group.