Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM’s)

A brain AVM is a rare, usually genetic, birth defect where a network of abnormal blood vessels disrupts blood flow to the brain. AVMs are usually a dark red or purple mark on the child’s skin. They might enlarge during childhood and adolescence. AVMs can cause bleeding in the brain, brain damage, stroke, paralysis and disability.


Symptoms may include:

  • headaches
  • seizures
  • weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • tingling or numbness
  • problems with vision, hearing and memory, and
  • changes in personality.


  • Evaluate medical history including signs and symptoms
  • Medical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Radiology – CT or MRI scans, Angiogram

Treatment Options

It is important to treat brain AVMs to prevent bleeding and control other complications such as seizures. Treatment might include medication to control symptoms or blood pressure. Surgery may be needed to remove the AVM. Because a child’s brain is still developing, treatments can cause more side effects than for adults. However, surgical advances are making previously inoperable brain AVMs more accessible and safer for surgical removal.


  • Some confusion and neurological deficits – depending on the location of AVM and type of treatment needed.
  • Rehabilitation
  • Follow up MRI
  • Possible follow up surgery
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain medication as required
  • Speech therapy if needed


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