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Arteriovenous Malformation Surgery

Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) surgery is performed to remove a tangled mass of blood vessels that may develop for unknown reasons, typically in the brain.

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal group of veins and arteries that can form for unknown reasons, typically in the brain. Most AVMs develop before birth or shortly thereafter. The tangled blood vessels then establish direct connections with each other and bypass healthy tissues.

An AVM can grow over time and interfere with the delivery of blood, oxygen and nutrients to vital brain tissues, leading to symptoms such as headaches and seizures and increasing the risk of rupture and bleeding. If an AVM is situated in an accessible area of the brain, AVM surgery may be considered to prevent or address these issues by closing off the abnormal connections between blood vessels.

What Does AVM Surgery Involve?

During AVM surgery, a surgeon performs a craniotomy to remove a piece of the skull and directly access the AVM. While viewing the surgical site under a high level of magnification, the surgeon utilizes micro-instruments to carefully disconnect the blood supply to the AVM, then removes it. To complete the procedure, the surgeon replaces the piece of skull bone that was removed, then closes the incision in the scalp.

What to Expect After AVM Surgery

After AVM surgery, the area around the incision may feel sore and numb for about a week, and it may begin to itch as it heals. Additionally, there may be some swelling and bruising around the eyes, along with general fatigue. The post-surgical effects can often be managed with rest, pain-relieving medications and ice pack applications. Most daily activities can be resumed within 4 to 6 weeks, and a full recovery can take up to 6 months. In the meantime, some patients participate in a rehabilitation program.

Is AVM Surgery Effective?

As with any type of brain surgery, AVM surgery has some risks, including infection and neurological impairment. However, in the vast majority of cases, AVM surgery completely removes the AVM and eliminates the risk of rupture.

The nationally renowned neurovascular team at Tampa General Hospital has a high success rate in treating AVMs, including complex and high-grade blood vessel abnormalities. To help ensure the best possible outcome for each patient, we develop a customized treatment plan based on the size and location of the AVM and other individual factors.