Brain AVM surgery

Excision of arteriovenous malformation (AVM)

If you are found to have a brain AVM, our expert neurosurgeons are able to surgically remove this for you

What is an arteriovenous malformation?

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a term used to describe a complex tangle of blood vessels in your brain with abnormal connections between your arteries and veins. They are almost always present at birth and arise during early development of the baby in pregnancy.

They are usually not detected until later on, or may never cause symptoms during a lifetime. An AVM can interfere with normal blood circulation, it may trigger epileptic seizures and if it bleeds it can cause sudden onset headache or a type of stroke.

Need to know

  • What happens during AVM surgery? icon plus

    If treatment is required, most AVMs are now obliterated without the need for open surgery (using either gamma knife radiosurgery) or interventional radiology.

    If surgery is the best treatment option, the excision (removal) will be carried out under general anaesthetic, which means you'll be asleep. This involves a craniotomy (open brain surgery) and this complex operation may take up to several hours.

    In order to remove the AVM, your surgeon may follow these steps: 

    • make an incision in your scalp before cutting a window  of bone from the skull (bone flap)
    • seal off and remove the AVM from the surrounding brain tissue
    • finish by replacing the bone flap and closing the incision
  • How to prepare for AVM surgery icon plus

    Your neurosurgeon will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have. Because you'll be having general anaesthetic, they'll let you know how long you should avoid eating and drinking before surgery. You may also be asked to attend a nurse-led pre-assessment clinic.

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your neurosurgeon will explain these to you.

    In some cases, your neurosurgeon may request a pre-operative embolisation of your AVM, this will be performed by a specialist radiologist. Particles or a special glue is injected into the abnormal arteries of the AVM to reduce the blood flow, making the surgery easier and safer
  • After surgery icon plus

    You will be monitored closely after you awaken from the anaesthetic in a recovery room. Our nurses will measure your blood pressure, heart rate and respiration levels. You'll then be moved to a regular ward, and should be able to go home within one week of the procedure.

    During this time, you will have an angiogram to ensure the AVM has been completely removed. Your consultant will advise you on how to approach your recovery process at home. They will of course discuss any concerns you may have, and arrange a follow-up appointment with you.

Our neurosurgeons

We're proud to work with leading neurosciences experts across a range of neurological fields, including neurology, neurophysiology and neurological rehabilitation, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex neurosurgery to neurological diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional neurological 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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