Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)

AVMs can occur anywhere in the body

An abnormal connection or passageway between an artery and vein where the blood bypasses your capillaries

What is AVM?

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a term used to describe a complex tangle of blood vessels in your brain, where there are abnormal connections between your arteries and veins. They are almost always present at birth and arise either during very early pregnancy or as part of an inherited condition. It is believed they often occur because of a problem in blood vessel formation in the foetus during pregnancy.

An AVM can interfere with normal blood circulation, and dependent on their location can cause severe problems if they bleed. In these cases it is likely surgery will be required to remove them.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of arteriovenous malformation? icon plus

    AVM’s are often visible if they occur near the skin, as the skin will become discoloured. They will likely cause swelling and you will see blood vessels very close to the surface of the skin. 

    Other AVM symptoms may include:

    • Balance problems
    • Bleeding
    • Blurred vision or loss of vision
    • Confusion
    • Heart problems
    • Headache
    • Numbness and or weakness on one side of the body
    • Speech problems such as muddled words or slurred speech
    • Ulcer

    It’s important to note that AVMs do not shrink over time, and so if you experience symptoms you should contact your GP or consultant as soon as possible.

  • How is AVM diagnosed? icon plus

    In order to diagnose arteriovenous malformations, a consultant will carry out a physical examination to assess if there are any visible abnormalities present. They may also carry out the following tests to confirm a diagnosis:

  • Treatment options for AVM icon plus

    They most suitable type of treatment for AVM will depend on its size, location and how restricted the blood flow is in this area, as well as if other health factors are involved. The most likely options and the reasoning for each are as follows:

    • Embolisation. This aims to block the artery supplying the arteriovenous malformation to reduce blood flow. This may be done prior to surgery with the aim of reducing bleeding during the operation or sometimes as a curative treatment in itself.
    • Gamma Knife. A type of radiation treatment, which has become the treatment of choice for many patients with arteriovenous malformations.
    • Surgery. This is to remove the arteriovenous malformation from your healthy surrounding brain tissue.

Our AVM specialists

AVM is a condition affecting the vascular system, and the consultant you will need to consult will be related to the area the AVM is located.

Your GP or primary physician will be able to advise you of the type of consultant you will be referred to.

Our locations

From complex vascular condiitions to diagnostic tests andprocedures, we provide exceptional multidisciplinary care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Book an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you can make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

Call us today

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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