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The Anatomy

The anatomy of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) is characterized by abnormal connections between arteries and veins, bypassing the capillary network. Typically, arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to various parts of the body, while veins return oxygen-depleted blood to the heart. However, in AVMs, this flow is disrupted, as arteries directly connect to veins without the usual capillary beds. This abnormality creates a high-pressure environment within the AVM, increasing the risk of rupture and bleeding.

AVMs can occur anywhere in the body, but they most commonly develop in the brain or spinal cord. Within these structures, the AVMs can cause significant neurological symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, weakness, or sensory disturbances. Dr. Vogel conducts thorough evaluations and diagnostic tests to identify the root cause of the symptoms and curate effective treatment strategies to either eliminate the malformation or redirect blood flow to safer pathways, reducing the risk of complications and preserving neurological function.

The Prevalence

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are relatively rare vascular abnormalities, affecting approximately 10 in every 100,000 individuals annually. While they can develop anywhere in the body, they most commonly occur in the brain or spinal cord. AVMs are often congenital, meaning they are present at birth, but they can also develop later in life. Despite their rarity, AVMs carry significant risks, including hemorrhage and neurological deficits.

Risk Factors for Arteriovenous Malformations:

  • Family history of AVMs
  • Male gender appears to be a risk factor
  • Most commonly diagnosed in individuals between 20 and 40 years old
  • Syndromes like Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome (hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia)
  • Prior history of radiation therapy to the head or neck
  • Presence of other vascular abnormalities or malformations
  • Certain medical conditions, such as liver disease or vascular tumors

The Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness in the limbs
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Difficulty with coordination or balance
  • Speech difficulties
  • Vision problems
  • Memory or cognitive impairment
  • Bleeding in the brain or spinal cord
  • Neurological deficits

The Diagnosis

Diagnosing arteriovenous malformations typically involves a combination of imaging tests and clinical assessment. Techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and angiography help visualize abnormal blood vessels and assess their location and size. Neurological examination and patient history are also crucial in identifying symptoms and determining the appropriate diagnostic approach. Dr. Vogel evaluates his patients’ symptoms and performs comprehensive diagnostic tests to curate personalized treatment strategies.

The Treatment

The treatment for arteriovenous malformations aims to reduce the risk of complications and improve overall quality of life. Generally speaking, treatment options include surgical removal, endovascular embolization to block abnormal blood flow, stereotactic radiosurgery to target the AVM with focused radiation, or a combination of these approaches. Dr. Tim Vogel and our team at Pediatric Neurosurgeons of New Jersey follow a multidisciplinary approach and use cutting-edge techniques tailored to individual needs to ensure optimal results.

Schedule Your Consultation

Dr. Tim Vogel is a board-certified pediatric neurosurgeon and a distinguished surgeon-scientist serving as the lead neuro-oncology neurosurgeon at Joseph M Sanzari Children’s Hospital. With expertise in treating complex conditions like arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), Dr. Vogel offers personalized care backed by extensive experience. Please contact us to schedule your consultation with Dr. Vogel and explore tailored treatment options to help your child recover and receive comprehensive care for arteriovenous malformations in Bergen County.

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Contact Us 551-777-8118