An arteriovenous malformation is a defect of the circulatory system that develops during embryonic development or shortly after birth and may form in several different locations throughout the body. Many arteriovenous malformations do not cause any symptoms, but those in the brain or spinal cord can have widespread effects on the body. Symptoms usually arise when patients are in their 30s, although they may occur at any time.
Patients with an arteriovenous malformation often experience seizures and headaches, as well as muscle weakness, loss of coordination, dizziness, visual disturbances, mental confusion, abnormal sensations and more. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the malformation. As the malformation does not allow the brain to absorb oxygen from the blood, stroke-like symptoms are often experienced as well.
Mild symptoms of an arteriovenous malformation can often be managed through medication, but the most effective treatment is usually surgery or focused irradiation therapy. Before undergoing surgery, your doctor will perform a thorough evaluation and weigh the benefits and risks of the procedure for each patient’s individual case. The outlook for successful treatment is highest in patients who experience early symptoms from this condition prior to hemorrhaging.