Spine Deformities



Why AVMs form is not known.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of AVMs are:

  • A family history of AVMs
  • Past head injury
  • Past surgery or radiation therapy



Not all people have symptoms. Symptoms may vary in those who do. It depends on the AVM's size and where it is. A person may have:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of movement or weakness on one side of the body
  • Sudden, severe back pain
  • Problems with certain movements, such as walking
  • Speaking problems
  • Vision problems
  • Memory loss, confusion, or problems thinking
  • Shaking that they cannot control


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done.

Images may be taken. This can be done with:

  • Cerebral angiography
  • MR angiography
  • CT angiography
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

AVMs that do not cause symptoms may be found during testing for another health problem.



The goal of treatment is to prevent bleeding and to remove the AVM.

Care depends on if the AVM has ruptured or not. Sometimes, more than one method is used. Care may be given in a hospital.


Medicines may be given to manage an AVM that has not ruptured. They may also be given to ease:

  • Pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Pressure inside the skull


If the AVM has ruptured, surgery may be delayed for 2 to 6 weeks. The type of surgery depends on the size and site of the AVM. Options are:

  • Microsurgery—A special microscope will help the surgeon see the area and remove the AVM.
  • Embolization—A tube is inserted through the skin. It is passed through arteries until it reaches the AVM. A substance is passed to the area to block off blood flow to the AVM.
  • Radiosurgery—A beam of radiation is focused on the AVM. It destroys the blood vessel walls leading to the AVM. This will block off blood flow to the AVM.


AVMs cannot be prevented.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.