Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangled cluster of arteries and veins that can interfere with blood flow in the brain. As a leader in treating AVMs, Indiana University Health provides specialized expertise and sophisticated treatment options for this condition. Treatment depends on the unique characteristics of each AVM. In some cases, a combination of treatments is required. The experienced neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists at the IU Health Neuroscience Center work together to develop the right treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome.

Advanced brain imaging is essential for successful treatment of AVM. Brain studies help the neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists at the IU Health Neuroscience Center diagnose an AVM, and determine exactly which blood vessels are involved. Once they have a clear understanding of the location, size and specific characteristics of the AVM, they can choose the most successful treatment plan.

The IU Health Neuroscience Center features advanced imaging technologies, including:

With Indiana’s largest neuroscience program—which includes the most experienced neurologists, neurosurgeons and fellowship trained interventional neuroradiologists—the IU Health Neuroscience Center provides a full range of AVM treatment options, including those listed below.

Endovascular Embolization

This less-invasive procedure is successful at treating an AVM deep in the brain. In endovascular embolization, our interventional neuroradiologists insert a catheter into an artery in the groin and then thread it up into the brain. The catheter delivers a glue-like substance into the AVM, blocking its blood flow and causing it to shrink. Sometimes endovascular embolization is the only treatment necessary; sometimes it is used in conjunction with another treatment.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a noninvasive treatment that uses targeted radiation to shrink the AVM. Our radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons use 3D images of the brain to help them deliver very high doses of radiation directly to the AVM. The radiation causes scar tissue to form around the AVM, blocking its blood supply. Because the treatment is so precise, there is little exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

Surgical Removal

Surgical removal may be recommended if the AVM is bleeding or in an easily reachable area of the brain. During surgery, our expert neurosurgeons clip the vessels that feed the AVM—cutting off its blood supply—and then remove it. In some patients, endovascular embolization is used before surgery to shrink the AVM, increasing the likelihood of successful removal.