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Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)

You have been told that you have an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels within the brain. Over time, pressure can build up and the AVM can rupture (burst). If you have an AVM, you were probably born with it. But most people don't know they have one until a problem occurs. Signs of an AVM include bad headaches, blurred or double vision, and seizures (jerking movements that are out of your control).

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Understanding an AVM

The brain controls the body. You can move and feel because of the brain. And it is the brain that makes you able to think, show emotions, and make judgments. An AVM can damage the brain and put the rest of the body in danger.

Inside the Skull

Under the scalp and the skull, a tough membrane (called the dura) surrounds the brain. Beneath the dura, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cushions the brain. Blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen-rich blood throughout the brain.

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A Problem with Blood Flow

An AVM is a tangle of blood vessels. It can cause pressure to build up in the blood vessel and prevent normal blood flow. If the pressure becomes too great, a blood vessel can burst and blood can leak into the brain. This can damage parts of the brain that control vital body functions such as sight and movement. In some cases, problems caused by an AVM can even lead to death. But an AVM can be treated.

Online Medical Reviewer: Germano, Isabelle M, MD, FACS
Online Medical Reviewer: Patil, Parag G, MD, PhD
Last Review Date: 5/1/2012
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