Caring Complex Blood Vessel Problems in the Brain

Brain vascular malformations, also called cerebral vascular malformations, are abnormal collections of blood vessels that alters blood flow. It’s an umbrella term for a group of abnormalities based on how the blood vessels form and their structure.

At Penn State Health, we treat all the major types of vascular malformation of the brain, including:

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM), or enlarged or twisted arteries and veins
  • Cavernous malformations (CM), or enlarged blood-filled spaces
  • Venous angiomas (VA), or enlarged veins
  • Telangiectasias (TA), or enlarged capillaries
  • Vein of Galen malformations (VGM), or an unsupported vein
  • Mixed malformations (MM), or having two or more different types

Advanced Treatment Options

Left untreated, complications of a brain vascular malformation can be life-changing. These include brain hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), reduced oxygen to the brain, thin or weak blood vessels, fluid buildup in the brain and congestive heart failure.

That’s why it’s important to get the right care, early on. Our team of cerebrovascular experts - neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuroradiologists and neurocritical doctors - work closely to diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan.

We offer a full range of care for brain vascular malformations and related diseases, including nonsurgical approaches and the latest neurosurgical procedures.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Some brain vascular malformations are discovered at birth, while others show later in life.

Symptoms may be related to the type of malformation, its progression and related complications. Common symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Numbness
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Speech problems
  • Stroke
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness

Diagnosing a cerebral vascular malformation often begins with a physical exam and a full medical history. Sometimes your doctor can hear a “whooshing” sound through a stethoscope placed on the skull. Your doctor may order imaging studies such as:

  • Cerebral angiography or spiral CT scan angiography (CTA) of the head
  • CT scan of the head
  • MRI of the head or MRI angiogram (MRA)

Recovery from a brain vascular malformation depends on the type, severity and the complications that arise.

If diagnosed and treated early, many people live with few problems. Some people may have chronic (or ongoing) complications that can be managed with medical therapy.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Penn State Health uses a multidisciplinary approach to evaluate and treat our brain vascular malformation patients. Complex cases are reviewed at our multidisciplinary conference with cerebrovascular professionals from all major treatment areas.

Range of Treatments for Brain Vascular Malformations

We offer a range of treatment options, including the latest in:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery, a nonsurgical approach using highly concentrated X-ray beams
  • Microsurgery using most advanced microscope technology
  • Endovascular surgery using the latest coiling and embolization techniques and devices

Expertise You Can Trust

Because our neurosurgeons are fellowship-trained in both endovascular and microsurgical procedures, you can get all your care right here from the same team. We perform a variety of techniques and will choose the best one for your specific condition.

Follow-up Care from the Same Team

Our multidisciplinary approach means the neurosurgeons, neurologists and other cerebrovascular professionals involved in your care are all on the same page from the start.

As a team, we follow your condition before, during and after treatment. If surgery is necessary, we continue to manage and reduce your risk for further complications with follow-up visits.

Support Groups

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Convenient Locations

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