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Arteriovenous Malformation


An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins. Blood flows too quickly from the arteries and pushes on the walls of the veins. This can damage or weaken the veins and cause them to bulge and get twisted. An AVM that has not burst usually causes no symptoms. If it bursts, blood will leak into surrounding tissue, and may cause a stroke.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • Anticonvulsant medicine is given to prevent or control seizures.
  • Blood pressure medicine lowers your blood pressure to protect your blood vessels from rupturing and bleeding.
  • Diuretics help decrease swelling in your brain. This may help your brain get better blood flow.
  • Steroid medicine decreases swelling in your brain.
  • Bowel movement softeners will help prevent you from having to strain. You can cause an AVM if you strain to have a bowel movement.


  • Blood and urine tests may be used to check for infection, kidney function, or to get information about your overall health.
  • A neurologic exam can show healthcare providers how well your brain is working. Healthcare providers may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.


  • An angiogram is used to check for problems with blood flow in your brain. X-rays are taken as contrast dye goes into blood vessels in your brain. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • A CT or MRI scan may be used to take pictures of blood vessels and tissue in your brain. You may be given contrast dye before the pictures are taken to help blood vessels show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.


  • Surgery may be needed to repair or remove your AVM, repair burst blood vessels, or remove blood from your brain. Your healthcare provider will use the size, location, and depth of the AVM to decide whether surgery is right for you.
  • Endovascular embolization may the only treatment for your AVM. Sometimes it is done before surgery or radiation to make the AVM smaller and easier to treat. A catheter (tube) is put into a large blood vessel in your groin, and guided up to the AVM in your brain. Dye and an x-ray machine may be used to locate the AVM. Healthcare providers use the catheter to put chemicals, metal coils, or plastic beads in the AVM to stop the blood flow to it.
  • Radiation therapy , also called radiosurgery, uses x-ray machines, such as a gamma knife, to treat the AVM. You may have to go back several times to complete this therapy.


  • Treatment may not remove the AVM, or you may get another AVM. You may get an infection after surgery or bleed more than expected during surgery. You may develop brain damage. AVM treatment during pregnancy puts both the mother and the unborn baby at risk. The increased blood pressure that occurs with pushing the baby out during delivery can affect the AVM.
  • Your AVM may get bigger or more tangled. The risk that it will burst is greater if it is not treated. You are at risk of a stroke if the AVM bursts.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.