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Intracranial venous malformations

Medically reviewed on Aug 9, 2017

Overview

Intracranial venous malformations are abnormally enlarged veins in your brain. These enlargements aren't likely to cause symptoms or affect how the veins work.

Intracranial venous malformations might remain undetected or be found incidentally when you have a brain-imaging test for another condition.

Most often, this condition doesn't require treatment.

Diagnosis

Because you're unlikely to have symptoms of intracranial venous malformations, your doctor might find that you have the condition during testing for other neurological concerns.

You might undergo these imaging tests to diagnose other neurological conditions:

  • CT scan. A CT scan creates a series of X-rays to create detailed, cross-sectional images of your blood vessels and your brain. In some cases, dye is injected into a vein to assess the brain tissue or the blood vessels in greater detail (CT angiogram or CT venogram).
  • MRI. Magnetic and radio waves create detailed 3-D images of your blood vessels and brain. In some cases a contrast dye is injected into a vein to look at the brain tissue in a different way, and to evaluate your blood vessels (magnetic resonance angiography or magnetic resonance venography).

Treatment

Doctors usually don't treat intracranial venous malformations because they rarely cause symptoms. If you have unrelated symptoms, such as headaches, your doctor might prescribe medications.

Rarely, people who have intracranial venous malformations have seizures or bleeding in the brain (brain hemorrhage). These are usually caused by other vascular malformations that can be found with a venous malformation. Doctors typically treat seizures with medications.

Some hemorrhages require surgery, but many hemorrhages can be treated with medical management and observation in a hospital.

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