A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain; patients are born with this malformation. Treatment depends on the patient’s age, health and the size and location of the AVM.
Surgery is the most common treatment for brain AVMs. One option is for an endovascular surgeon to perform an endovascular embolization.
In this procedure, your doctor inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) into a groin artery and threads it through blood vessels to your brain using X-ray imaging.
The catheter is positioned in one of the feeding arteries to the AVM, and injects an embolizing agent to block the artery and reduce blood flow into the AVM. This may be repeated in multiple feeder vessels with the goal of reducing blood flow to the AVM.
Endovascular embolization is less invasive than traditional surgery. It may be performed alone, but is frequently used prior to other surgical treatments to make the procedure safer by reducing the size of the AVM or the likelihood of bleeding.
In some large brain AVMs, endovascular embolization may be used to reduce stroke-like symptoms by redirecting blood back to normal brain tissue.