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About Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)

In an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), blood flows directly from arteries into veins. Ordinarily, capillaries connect arteries and veins to one another, but in an arteriovenous malformation, capillaries are absent. Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is proud to be a regional center for excellence in the treatment of brain AVMs. Treatment may include one of several surgical options.

AVMs may occur within the brain itself or within the dura. Dural arteriovenous malformations and AVMs in the brain both have the potential to cause several complications:

  • Hemorrhage: Typically, arteries accommodate high-pressure blood flow; blood flows through veins at lower pressure; and capillaries manage the intervening pressure gradient. Without capillaries, high-pressure blood surges from arteries directly into veins. Vein walls may weaken or rupture, causing hemorrhage and stroke– a medical emergency.
  • Compression of affected area: Some AVMs can grow large enough that they encroach on nearby tissue or interfere with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Low blood supply to affected area: Without capillaries, the tissues around an AVM may not receive adequate nutrients from the blood, and cellular waste products may not be cleared as effectively.

AVMs vary widely in terms of size, location, type of blood flow and many other factors. An AVM may cause all, some or none of the complications listed above.

patient journey

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