A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal collection of blood vessels with rapid shunting of blood from the arteries to the venous system.
The two primary treatments used for AVMs include surgical resection and radiation therapy. Surgical treatment is easier for smaller, more superficially located lesions and is more difficult for deep lesions.
Embolization of brain AVMs is a minimally invasive complement to the two traditional therapies, where special glue-like agents are used to obliterate portions of the AVM. While embolization alone cannot treat most large AVMs, embolization is an important part of the treatment of these lesions. When performed prior to surgery, it can make surgery safer by reducing blood loss and shortening the operation. In patients who will be receiving radiation therapy, embolization can either reduce the overall size of the target, thus increasing the success rate, or can be used to target smaller portions of the AVM that might be at higher risk for bleeding.
Embolization can be very effective at curing some of these lesions or significantly reducing the size of the lesion prior to radiosurgery or conventional surgery.