Brain Arteriovenous Malformation in Children

Brain Arteriovenous Malformation in Children

Brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a condition that means your child’s arteries and veins are tangled. The veins bring blood to the heart and lungs. The arteries bring blood away from the heart and to the brain. If they are tangled, blood cannot travel to where it is needed.

Brain AVM may also lead to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage), which can be life-threatening. Most brain AVMs are present since birth (congenital).

What are the causes?

The cause of AVM is usually not known. Genes that are passed down through families may cause some types of AVM.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition depend on which area of the brain is affected and the amount of damage. Symptoms may include:

  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vision changes.
  • Seizure.
  • Weakness or loss of movement in part of the body.
  • Tingling or numbness in part of the body.
  • Loss of ability to speak.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Confusion or memory loss.
  • Seeing things that are not there (hallucinations).
  • Fainting, if the AVM ruptures.

Your child may not have any symptoms.

How is this diagnosed?

Your child’s health care provider may suspect a brain AVM based on your child’s symptoms and medical history. Your child will have a physical exam and will also have tests done, which may include:

  • MRI or magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA).
  • CT scan or CT angiogram (CTA).
  • Cerebral angiogram.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) if your child’s health care provider thinks that your child may have had a seizure.

How is this treated?

Treatment will depend on the size, location, and severity of the brain AVM. Treatment may include:

  • Surgery to remove the AVM (craniotomy).
  • Embolization. This involves closing off the vessels of the AVM by injecting glue into them.
  • Radiosurgery. This involves focusing radiation on the AVM.
  • Medicines to control your child’s symptoms, such as seizures or headaches.
  • Monitoring the AVM with imaging tests to make sure it is not growing.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Learn as much as you can about your child’s condition and work closely with your child’s team of health care providers.
  • Give your child over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child’s health care providers. Do notgive your child blood thinners, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, NSAIDs, or warfarin, unless your child’s health care provider tells you to do that.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child’s health care providers. This is important.

Get help right away if:

  • Your child has a sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
  • Your child has nausea or vomiting occurring with another symptom.
  • Your child has sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Your child has sudden trouble walking or difficulty moving his or her arms or legs.
  • Your child has sudden confusion.
  • Your child has sudden trouble speaking, understanding, or both (aphasia).
  • Your child has sudden trouble seeing in one or both of the eyes.
  • Your child has a sudden loss of balance or coordination.
  • Your child has a stiff neck.
  • Your child has difficulty breathing.
  • Your child has partial or total loss of consciousness.

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