Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are defects in the circulatory system that disrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and spinal cord. AVMs are extremely difficult to diagnose, and symptoms tend to occur only when the damage they cause to the brain or spinal cord reaches a critical level. AVMs damage the brain or spinal cord through three basic mechanisms: by reducing the amount of oxygen reaching neurological tissues; by causing bleeding (hemorrhage) into surrounding tissues; and by compressing or displacing parts of the brain or spinal cord.
If left untreated, AVMs have the potential of causing significant hemorrhage, which may result in serious neurological deficits or death. On the other hand, surgery on any part of the central nervous system carries its own risks.
What Does Endovascular Coiling Involve?
One treatment for AVMs is endovascular coiling (also known as endovascular embolization) where the surgeon guides a catheter though the arterial network until the tip of the catheter reaches the site of the AVM. The surgeon then introduces a substance that will plug the fistula, correcting the abnormal pattern of blood flow. This process is known as embolization because it causes an embolus (a blood clot) to travel through blood vessels, eventually becoming lodged in a vessel and obstructing blood flow.
The materials used to create an artificial blood clot in the center of an AVM include fast-drying biologically inert glues, fibered titanium coils, and tiny balloons. Since embolization usually does not permanently obliterate the AVM, it is usually used as an adjunct to surgery or to radiosurgery to reduce the blood flow through the AVM and make the surgery safer.
Why Choose Jefferson for Endovascular Coiling in Philadelphia?
If you are diagnosed with an AVM, there is one place you can turn to for the latest treatments – the Jefferson Brain Aneurysm and AVM Center. The largest Center in the Delaware Valley, we have evaluated and treated more than 5,000 patients with brain aneurysms and cerebral and spinal AVMs.
The Center is also home to the Brain Aneurysm and AVM Support Group for individuals, family members and friends who have been affected by a cerebral aneurysm, subarachnoid hemorrhage or AVM. The group provides an evolving knowledge and understanding of these vascular anomalies and the consequence of these disease processes.