VASCULAR MALFORMATIONS OF THE BRAIN

VASCULAR MALFORMATIONS OF THE BRAIN

Vascular malformations of the brain are collections of various blood vessels in the brain that are malformed and thus, affect brain circulation.

While these vascular masses are not dangerous tumors, they can cause diverse symptoms. While a vascular malformation causes no symptoms and can go unnoticed, some occurrences of unruptured blood vessel swellings may cause issues by compressing areas in the brain and altering brain circulation. In these cases, the unruptured blood vessels can cause symptoms such as headaches, seizures, or stroke-like symptoms, such as changes in the ability to think, changes in vision or speaking, changes in movements, weakness or paralysis.

TYPES

Vascular malformations are divided into types as to size, area, and types of blood vessels affected, such as:

  • Cavernomas
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Capillary telangiectasias
  • Venous malformations

SYMPTOMS

A vascular malformation may not cause any signs or symptoms until it breaks, leaking blood into the brain.

In people without bleeding, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Headache or pain on one area of the head
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis in one side of the body

Some individuals may experience progressive neurological signs and symptoms, dependent upon the area affected, including:

  • Severe headache
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty talking
  • Confusion or inability to understand others
  • Severe instability

DIAGNOSIS

The following laboratory tests may be requested:

Computerized tomography angiogram (CTA)  

CTA uses computed tomography and a contrast dye injected into the blood to obtain images of blood vessels.

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)

MRA uses magnetic fields and radio waves to give images of blood vessels inside the body.

Cerebral angiogram

This is the best way to view small aneurysms and to envision the shape and morphology of blood vessel malformations.

TREATMENT

Vascular malformations may be treated by either endovascular embolization or microsurgery. For inoperable malformations requiring treatment, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) may be done.

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