Brain Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)

Brain Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM) in Southern California

Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. From here, the veins transport oxygen-depleted blood away from the brain and back to the heart. An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) occurs when a tangle of blood vessels in the brain disrupts this normal blood flow, causing it to bypass healthy brain tissue and capillaries and diverts it from the arteries to the veins.

Dr. M. Asif Taqi is a triple-board-certified neurointerventionalist and endovascular surgeon. He has extensive expertise in neurology, vascular, critical care neurology, and neuroendovascular surgery. Dr. Taqi is also renowned for his expertise in AVM treatments. His advanced skills, compassionate manner, and extraordinary ability to connect with his patients have made him one of Southern California’s most sought-after physicians.

If you would like to learn more about AVM treatment in Thousand Oaks, continue reading or schedule a consultation today!

How Common are Brain AVMs?

Brain AVMs occur in less than one percent of the general population, are more commonly found in males than in females, and can occur anywhere within the brain or its covering.

These malformations are usually congenital, meaning a person is born with one. However, they are generally not hereditary; people typically do not inherit an AVM from their parents, and they probably won’t pass the condition on to their children. In rare cases, brain AVMs may be associated with conditions that run in families.

What Are the Symptoms of a Brain AVM?

Bleeding is the first sign in about half of all brain AVMs. Many AVM patients experience no symptoms, and their AVMs are discovered only incidentally, usually during an autopsy or the treatment of an unrelated disorder.

Symptoms of an AVM may vary depending on where it is located and include:

  • A localized pain in the head may be experienced due to increased blood flow around an AVM.
  • Seizures, in the case of the onset of a new AVM
  • Muscle paralysis or weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbances
  • Difficulty with language and memory
  • Abnormal sensations such as spontaneous pain, tingling, or numbness
  • Hallucinations
  • Dementia
  • Mental confusion

How Are Brain AVMs Diagnosed?

In diagnosing your arteriovenous malformation (AVM), your neurologist will review your symptoms and carry out a physical examination where one or more diagnostic tests will be ordered. Imaging tests that may help diagnose AVM include:

Cerebral angiography. This is the most detailed test used to diagnose an AVM. The test also reveals the AVM’s location, along with the characteristics of the arteries feeding it and the veins draining it. All this information is critical to planning a course of treatment.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan. CT scans produce a series of X-rays creating a detailed cross-sectional image of your brain. Dr. Taqi may also inject dye through an intravenous tube into a vein, enabling the arteries feeding the AVM as well as the veins draining the AVM to be viewed in greater detail through a computerized tomography angiogram.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI technology uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed cross-sectional images of your brain. MRIs can show more subtle changes in the brain tissue associated with a brain AVM. The MRI also provides information about the AVM’s exact location and any related bleeding in the brain.

Dr. Taqi may also inject a dye to check the blood circulation in your brain using a magnetic resonance angiogram. He will work with you to determine which of these diagnostic options is appropriate.

What Do I Need to Know About AVMs Bleeding?

A brain AVM is characterized by abnormal, weakened blood vessels that direct blood away from brain tissue. Over time, these abnormal and weak blood vessels dilate and may eventually burst from the high pressure of arterial blood flow.

There is a 1%—3% chance per year of a brain AVM bleeding, with the risk of recurrent intracranial bleeding being slightly higher for a short time after the first bleed.

People between 11—35 years old who have an AVM are at a slightly higher risk of bleeding, and the risk of death related to each bleed is 10%—15%. The chance of permanent brain damage from an AVM is between 20%—30%. Each time blood leaks from an AVM into the brain, healthy brain tissue is damaged, resulting in the loss of normal function either temporarily or permanently.

What Are the Treatment Options for AVMs?

While the primary goal of treatment is to prevent hemorrhage, treatment to control seizures or other neurological complications may also be considered.

Based on the results of the tests performed to diagnose your brain AVMs, Dr. Taqi will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your condition. He will consider your age, state of health, and the size and location of the abnormal blood vessels.

For brain AVMs, three different options are typically employed:

Endovascular embolization. Dr. Taqi has found that endovascular embolization is the leading treatment for AVMs. This method is less invasive, requires less downtime, and has less risk of endovascular surgery than other options. In this procedure, Dr. Taqi inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) into the femoral artery and threads it up through blood vessels to your brain using X-ray imaging. He will then position the catheter in one of the arteries feeding the AVM, which is then used to inject an embolizing agent. This is typically a glue-like substance, small particles, or some other materials that will block the artery, thus reducing blood flow into the AVM. Dr. Taqi recommends this treatment far more frequently than any other method.

Surgical removal (resection). In cases where the brain AVM has bled or is in an area easily reached through surgery, conventional brain surgery may be the most suitable option. Dr. Taqi does not perform neurosurgery, but he will refer you to another specialist if it is required.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). This treatment is designed to destroy the AVM using precisely focused radiation. Dr. Taqi also does not offer this treatment method, but will refer you out if he believes it is necessary.

If you have few or no symptoms, or if your AVM is located in an area of your brain that is hard to treat, Dr. Taqi may prefer to monitor your condition with regular checkups

Seeking the Best Help

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with brain arteriovenous malformations (AVM), you’ll want to seek expert care. Dr. M. Asif Taqi is set apart from others in the field. With his extensive training and experience within his own family, he has grown into the compassionate, caring, and highly skilled surgeon you will want to seek out. He will take time to explain and answer any questions that might arise, and he works to ensure the utmost comfort of each of his patients. 

Contact us today to arrange your consultation in Thousand Oaks or West Hills.