AVM – Types & Stages

Radiation Therapy Clinic in Glendale, AZ

At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to provide world-class radiation therapy and cancer treatment services to patients in Glendale, Scottsdale, Payson, and the greater Phoenix area. But while our six state-of-the-art cancer treatment centers primarily treat cancer patients, we can also use industry-leading technology like the CyberKnife System to treat some noncancerous conditions. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), we may be able to help.

Types of AVMs

Arteriovenous malformations are a congenital (from birth) condition in which an abnormality forms in the blood vessels in or around the brain, often causing several blood vessels to meet in a way that can pose a danger and potentially cause a bleed or stroke. That said, AVM is a blanket term referring to a wide range of specific subconditions. The term arteriovenous malformation may refer to any of the following specific conditions:

  • True Arteriovenous Malformation: This is the most common condition and what AVM usually refers to. True AVMs are snarled, tangled formations of blood vessels where arteries and veins connect without any capillaries or brain tissue between them.
  • Venous Malformation: This is similar to a true AVM, but affects only veins and no arteries.
  • Cryptic or Occult AVM (Cavernous Malformation): This describes a brain AVM that doesn’t divert a large quantity of blood, but can still pose a serious bleeding risk.
  • Hemangioma: This is an AVM occurring on the surface of the brain, the skin, or facial structures, usually taking the form of large pockets of blood within normal bodily tissue.
  • Dural Fistula: Dural fistula describes an AVM occurring in the “dura mater,” the name for the hard outer covering of the brain beneath the skull. There are three subtypes of dural fistula:
    • Transverse Sigmoid Sinus Dural Fistula: An AVM in the dura mater that forms behind the ear. Symptoms often include pain behind the ear, headaches, neck pain, or a noise occurring with each heartbeat (bruit).
    • Dural Carotid Cavernous Sinus Fistula: An AVM in the dura mater behind the eye, which can divert blood away from the eyes. These AVMs can cause symptoms like vision loss, redness or swelling of the eye, congestion, and occasionally a “swishing” noise.
    • Sagittal Sinus & Scalp Dural Fistula: An AVM in the dura mater on top of the head. These can cause symptoms of noise (bruit), headaches, or pain on top of the head.

Stages of AVMs

Because AVMs are a noncancerous congenital condition, there is no staging system in place for AVMs. AVMs are also not a progressive condition – they exist from birth and don’t usually get worse with time, although if the AVM bleeds it may be more likely to bleed in the future. In some cases, an AVM may swell with blood over time, eventually putting pressure on the brain and causing symptoms. When discovered, however, AVMs should almost always be treated as a serious condition and treatment sought immediately.

Schedule a Consultation with Your Scottsdale, AZ Radiation Therapy Experts

At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to provide world-class radiation therapy treatment through the state of the art CyberKnife System – and if you suffer from an AVM, we may be able to use noninvasive CyberKnife to treat it. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out if CyberKnife is right for you. We’ll help you treat your AVM and eliminate the fear of a dangerous bleed.

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