Treatments for Brain Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) | Surgery | MedStar Health

At MedStar Health, we have neurosurgeons who specialize in the treatment of brain AVMs. Your neurosurgeon will consider several factors unique to your case when recommending a course of treatment. Our center offers all forms of treatment, including:

  • Microsurgical resection
  • Cyberknife radiosurgery
  • Endovascular embolization

Microsurgical resection of a brain AVM

Microsurgery involves the precise, minimally disruptive removal of the AVM performed by our experienced cerebrovascular neurosurgeons. This procedure provides the highest cure rate of any treatment.

Our cerebrovascular neurosurgeons perform these procedures with minimal risk, using recent advances in microsurgical techniques and state-of-the-art technology, including:

  • Intraoperative ICG video angiography to distinguish AVM vessels from normal blood vessels in the brain, enhancing the precision of removing the AVM
  • Electrophysiological monitoring of patients while they are under anesthesia. MedStar Health has neurologists who are dedicated to intraoperative monitoring. The neurologist provides your neurosurgeon real-time data on how your nervous system is functioning during the operation. This allows us to maintain the highest levels of safety during surgery.

Cyberknife radiosurgery for a brain AVM

Our cerebrovascular neurosurgeons are experts in this noninvasive treatment, which uses radiation targeted to the AVM. The AVM becomes slowly eliminated over the course of 2 to 3 years. In appropriately selected patients, it works the majority of the time. It is useful for small AVMs in locations that are less safe for microsurgery. Our neurosurgeons work with a radiation oncologist to deliver the treatment.

Learn more about CyberKnife at MedStar Health.

Endovascular embolization for brain AVMs

Endovascular treatment, also known as embolization, involves accessing the brain arteries through a catheter (long, thin tube) inserted into the groin. The catheter is threaded through the arteries to the AVM with X-ray guidance. During embolization, the blood vessels of the AVM are injected with glue or a polymer called Onyx. It is generally not used as a stand-alone treatment, but rather as a preliminary treatment before microsurgical resection, if the neurosurgeon determines that it would make microsurgery safer.

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