Arteriovenous Malformations

With a team of skilled pediatric neurosurgeons and the nation’s highest concentration of pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialists, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare provides superior care for patients who have arteriovenous malformations or other cerebral vascular conditions. We provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment for children, and we strive to help them achieve their highest possible levels of wellness in a family-centered environment.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • Gillette is a regional leader in pediatric neurology and neurosurgery.
  • Our pediatric orthopedists, neurosurgeons and rehabilitation specialists collaborate during a single clinic visit, offering superior care and convenience for families.
  • Our facilities and technology help us provide comprehensive care for patients and their families.
  • Our extensive, interdisciplinary team of experts to provide services tailored to the needs of patients and their families.


Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are abnormal connections among arteries and veins in the circulatory system or collections of blood vessels in the brain. These malformations are more likely to bleed than normal blood vessels. They vary in size and can be found in different areas of the brain. While AVMs can occur anywhere in the body, they are most problematic when they occur in the brain because of the risk of bleeding.

Other Cerebral Vascular Conditions

There are many types of cerebral vascular conditions. Collectively the conditions are associated with malformed blood vessels that can lead to bleeds (hemorrhages), strokes, clots and other complications. AVMs are just one type of cerebrovascular condition.

Arteriovenous Malformation Symptoms

Most people are not aware they have an AVM. The most common symptoms of an AVM are seizures and persistent headaches. When an AVM ruptures, a severe headache usually follows.

Typical symptoms of an AVM are:

  • Seizures
  • Headache
  • A whooshing sound in the head
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking

Arteriovenous Malformations Causes and Incidence

While the cause of most AVMs is unknown, they might be caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in utero. AVMs are not inherited. They affect all races and both genders equally. AVMs are rare and occur in roughly 1 percent of the population.

Arteriovenous Malformations Tests and Treatments

The three main tests used to diagnose AVMs are:

  • Cerebral arteriography (Angiogram): This test displays the AVM as a tangle of blood vessels. Specialists can see the exact location and size of the AVM. This test is usually the most accurate test.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT scan): This test detects bleeding in the brain and spaces of fluid around the brain.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test shows the AVM in detail, as well as its location within the brain.

Because AVMs differ from person to person, the best treatment plan depends on the size, type and location of the AVM. In some cases, we simply monitor AVMs for changes and treatment isn’t necessary. In other cases, we might recommend one or a combination of the following treatments.


Embolization treatment involves the injection of glue or other nonreactive liquid adhesive material into the AVM. When the substance hardens, it blocks blood from passing through the blood vessels, reducing the risk of bleeding.


Radiation treatment uses a narrow x-ray beam to focus a highly concentrated dose of radiation on the AVM. The radiation causes the AVM to close after two to three years.


Sometimes we can remove AVMs without risking serious complications. In such cases, complete surgical removal is an excellent long-term treatment option.

Arteriovenous Malformations Services

Gillette’s comprehensive services include care from pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric rehabilitation medicine physicians, and rehabilitation therapists. Our specialists have extensive experience in diagnosing and managing AVMs and other cerebral vascular conditions.

Specialties and services most often involved in the treatment of AVMs and cerebral vascular conditions include:

For more information about the comprehensive services we provide at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.

Why Gillette?

Because all children deserve a lifetime of amazing health care.

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