Vascular Malformations of The Brain


The abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain is called vascular malformation of the brain or arteriovenous malformation. They can occur anywhere in the brain, but usually develop in the brain or spine. It is actually a broader term that includes six conditions in which blood vessels of the brain are affected.

Classification of Vascular Malformations of the Brain

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM), that is abnormal arteries and veins

  • Cavernous malformations (CM), that is enlarged blood-filled spaces

  • Venous angiomas (VA), that is abnormal veins

  • Telangiectasias (TA), that is enlarged capillary-sized vessels

  • Vein of Galen malformations (VGM)

  • Mixed malformations (MM)

Most of these anomalies are congenital and are present from the birth itself.

Cause of Vascular Malformations of the Brain

Although the main cause of vascular malformations is not known but some of them are believed to have a genetic component.

Symptoms of Vascular Malformations of the Brain

In most of the cases, these malformations cause no symptom at all until the blood vessel rupture and cause bleeding.

Symptoms depend on the type, size and location of vascular malformation and may include any of the following:

  • Headache

  • Progressive weakness or numbness

  • Seizures

  • Stroke

  • Bleeding in the brain (cerebral hemorrhage)

  • Bruit or a whooshing sound that can be heard while examining the skull with a stethoscope or may be audible

The patient will show following symptoms when blood vessel rupture:

  • Sudden and severe headache

  • Vision loss

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Inability to understand others

  • Severe unsteadiness

  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis

Diagnosis of Vascular Malformations of the Brain

Vascular malformations may go unnoticed till the time patient start to show symptoms. But their early diagnosis definitely improves the scope of treatment success. The diagnosis of vascular malformations of brain involves the following:

  • Complete history of the patient and family

  • A thorough physical and neurological examination

  • Cerebral arteriography

  • Computerised tomography

  • Magnetic resonance imaging

  • Venogram

  • Digital intravenous or common angiography


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