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 Neuroscience 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 IU Health Neuroscience work together to develop the right treatment plan to ensure the best outcome.

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1. Diagnosis  
2. Treatment Options  
   

Diagnosis

Advanced brain imaging is essential for successful treatment of AVM. Brain studies help the neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists at IU Health Neuroscience 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 map out the most successful treatment plan.

IU Health Neuroscience features the most advanced imaging technologies, including:

  • Cerebral angiography
  • MRI
  • CT

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Treatment Options

With the state's largest neuroscience program, which includes the most experienced neurologists, neurosurgeons and fellowship-trained interventional neuroradiologists, IU Health Neuroscience provides the full range of AVM treatment options, including:

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 non-invasive 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, which can increase likelihood of successful removal.

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