Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation Specialist

David Newell, MD

Cerebrovascular, Spinal, and Brain Tumor Neurosurgery located in Bellevue, WA

Most people who have a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) are born with the condition. If symptoms develop, however, they usually appear between the ages of 10 and 30. David Newell, MD has more than 25 years of experience treating cerebral AVM, using a variety of techniques to remove the malformation or stop it from bleeding. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as sudden, severe headaches, call Dr. Newell’s Seattle, Washington, office or book an appointment online.

Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation Q & A

What is a cerebral arteriovenous malformation?

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a group of blood vessels that are tangled together, forming abnormal connections between arteries and veins.

Under normal circumstances, arteries and veins connect through tiny capillaries, creating an orderly flow of blood between the two types of vessels. When an AVM bypasses the capillary bed, the abnormal blood flow diverts blood away from certain areas of your brain.

The blood vessels within an AVM are also weaker than normal. As a result, they’re susceptible to bleeding. In most cases, AVMs develop before birth, and while they can occur anywhere in the body, they’re most commonly found in your spine or brain, constituting a cerebral AVM.

What are the symptoms of a cerebral arteriovenous malformation?

Cerebral AVMs usually don’t cause symptoms, but about 12% of patients will experience symptoms that include:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • New onset seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Vision loss
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of coordination

In about 2-4% of patients, the AVM ruptures, releasing a large amount of blood into the brain. When this happens, you may experience stroke-like symptoms, such as drooping on one side of your face, weakness in one arm or difficulty speaking.

If you experience stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical attention immediately. Bleeding from a cerebral AVM can cause brain damage or death.

How is a cerebral arteriovenous malformation treated?

Dr. Newell develops an individualized treatment plan based on your age and overall health, as well as the size and location of the AVM. Your treatment focuses on preventing bleeding and removing the AVM, if possible, using one of the following procedures:

  • Microsurgery: closes off blood vessels and removes the AVM
  • Embolization: blocks blood flow to the AVM by injecting a glue-like substance into blood vessels
  • Radiosurgery: closes off blood flow to the AVM by precisely delivering a high dose of radiation to the AVM

Dr. Newell often recommends radiosurgery when the AVM is deep inside your brain or when it’s close to critical regions of your brain. Radiosurgery may also be used to reduce the size of a large cerebral AVM.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a cerebral arteriovenous malformation or you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, call David Newell, MD or book an appointment online.