Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain. The decision to treat or observe an AVM depends largely on the patient's clinical presentation and age. Active treatment is warranted in cases of AVMs presenting with bleeding or causing drug-resistant epilepsy. For asymptomatic AVMs, treatment decisions are based on the lifetime risk of bleeding. There are three main modalities used to treat AVMs: surgical intervention, endovascular treatment, and radiation therapy.
Surgical treatment is one of the most common methods for treating AVMs. This invasive procedure involves exposing the AVM nidus, the core of the AVM, and then sealing the feeding arteries and draining veins before removing the AVM. When the AVM is fully removed, the chances of recurrence are extremely low. However, partial removal isn't a viable treatment option, as it could potentially increase the risk of bleeding.
Endovascular treatment, or embolization, involves the use of angiography (a type of imaging) to guide the selective closure of the AVM's feeding arteries and nidus. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into the feeding vessels and injecting embolic materials to block blood flow. Like surgical treatment, total occlusion or closure leads to a cure, while partial closure might increase the risk of bleeding. However, achieving total closure with this method can be challenging, with success only in a small subset of brain AVMs. Endovascular treatment can also be used as an adjunctive therapy prior to surgery to facilitate the removal of the AVM.
Radiation treatment is another option for treating AVMs. Typically, stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT), a highly focused form of radiotherapy, is used. It delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the AVM, sparing the surrounding normal brain tissue. Over time, the radiation causes the blood vessels to close off.
In some cases, a single modality may fail to adequately treat the AVM. When this occurs, a combination of two or even all three methods may be employed. The decision on which treatment(s) to use is made by a highly experienced medical team, which will consider the unique characteristics of the AVM and the overall health status of the patient.
Recovery from AVM treatment largely depends on the specific modality used and the patient's overall health status. For surgical and endovascular treatments, some time in the hospital will be required, with physical and occupational therapy possibly needed to help regain strength and skills affected by the procedure.
Patients treated with radiation therapy usually don't require hospitalization, but they may experience fatigue and mild headaches for a few days after the treatment.
Long-term follow-up is important for all patients, as it allows the healthcare team to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and assess for any potential complications. Routine imaging studies, like CT or MRI, are typically used to monitor the treated AVM.
Mental health support, including counseling or support groups, may be beneficial during recovery. Living with a brain AVM can have significant psychological impacts, and having the right support system can greatly improve a patient's quality of life.
In conclusion, the treatment of brain AVMs can be a complex process, often involving one or more of the following: surgery, endovascular treatment, and radiation therapy. The chosen strategy will depend on the patient's specific condition, potential risks, and the expertise of the treating team.
Common symptoms of a brain tumor can vary greatly and depend on the tumor's location, size, and growth rate. They may include headaches, seizures, changes in personality or behavior, memory problems, and difficulty with balance, speech, hearing, or vision. Learn more on this topic in our Brain Tumors section.Learn More
Treatment options for a pituitary adenoma include observation, medication, surgery, and radiation therapy. The best treatment option depends on the size and type of the tumor, the patient's overall health, and personal preferences. Learn more about Pituitary Adenoma treatment in the corresponding section.Learn More
Scoliosis treatment depends on the degree of the curve and the patient's age. Non-surgical treatments include physical therapy, brace use, and pain relievers. In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the curve. Learn more about scoliosis is treated in our Scoliosis Treatment section.Learn More
The diagnosis of TOS is made in conjunction with the patient's history, symptoms, physical examination, imaging tests, and neurophysiological tests. Treatment can include physical therapy, pain management, and surgery in severe cases. Learn more about treatment options in our Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Treatment section.Learn More
Warning signs of a brain aneurysm can encompass sudden and severe headaches, blurred or double vision, neck pain, fainting or dizziness, and sensitivity to light. However, many aneurysms may not show symptoms until they leak or rupture. Learn more about this in our Brain Aneurysms section.Learn More
The need for surgery typically depends on the size, location, and growth rate of the aneurysm. Generally, aneurysms larger than 7mm, those located at certain parts of the brain, or those showing signs of growth on consecutive scans may require surgical intervention. To understand the specifics, it's best to consult with a neurosurgeon. More on this topic in our Brain Aneurysms section.Learn More
Currently, there's no standard blood test that can definitively diagnose brain cancer. While certain markers or changes may suggest a tumor's presence, imaging tests like MRI or CT scans remain primary diagnostic tools. Learn more about the diagnostic processes for brain cancer in our Brain Tumors section.Learn More
The growth rate of brain tumors can vary based on the type and grade of the tumor. Some tumors grow slowly and might not cause symptoms for years, while others can grow rapidly and present symptoms within weeks or months. The onset of symptoms also depends on the tumor's location and size. Learn more about the progression of brain tumors in our Brain Cancer section.Learn More
After brain surgery, patients might experience fatigue, mood fluctuations, or cognitive changes. Recovery time varies, and regular follow-ups are essential to monitor healing and detect any complications. Learn more about the recovery process for different disorders in our Brain Diseases Treatment section.Learn More
As we age, the spine undergoes natural degenerative changes. Discs may lose hydration and elasticity, vertebral bones might thin, and there can be a gradual narrowing of the spinal canal, which might lead to spinal stenosis or other conditions. Learn more about spine disorders in our Spine Diseases section.Learn More
Most patients start feeling better within 48 hours of kyphoplasty, with full recovery in a few weeks.Learn More
Recovery from vertebroplasty is typically quick, with most patients resuming normal activities within a few days.Learn More
Both procedures involve stabilizing fractured vertebrae, but kyphoplasty includes the inflation of a balloon to create space before cement is injected, whereas vertebroplasty injects cement directly without balloon inflation.Learn More
Patients with certain types of fractures, severe osteoporosis, or those with an active infection might not be suitable candidates for kyphoplasty. Always consult with a spinal specialist.Learn More
The three primary types of scoliosis are idiopathic (cause unknown, most common in adolescents), congenital (due to bone abnormalities present at birth), and neuromuscular (stemming from nerve or muscle disorders). Learn more about the differences between these types and the nature of this condition in the dedicated Scoliosis section.Learn More
Hunchback, or kyphosis, can be caused by poor posture, spinal trauma, congenital issues, osteoporosis, disc degeneration, or certain diseases like tuberculosis.Learn More
Tailbone pain, or coccydynia, without evident injury can arise from prolonged sitting, childbirth, tumors, infections, or can sometimes have an idiopathic (unknown) origin.Learn More