An AVM is a complex condition characterized by abnormal connections between arteries and veins in the brain. Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat AVM by blocking the abnormal blood vessels and reducing the risk of complications.
What is Embolization in an AVM?
Embolization is a specialized technique that involves introducing a tiny, glue-like substances into one or more abnormal blood vessels of the AVM. These particles block the blood flow to the AVM which can cause the AVM to shrink over time. The procedure is performed by a doctor called a Neurovascular radiologist who specializes in knowing the arteries and veins that make up the brain. There are two kinds of embolizations, trans- arterial, where the doctor goes to the avm through an artery and trans-venus where the doctor goes to the avm through a vein. In the United States, most embolizations are trans-arterial.
Before the embolization procedure, the patient undergoes advanced imaging, normally an angiogram and MRI, to precisely locate and evaluate the AVM’s size and structure. This information is crucial in planning the embolization approach.
During the procedure, the patient is under local anesthesia, ensuring comfort throughout. Using a catheter, the interventional neuroradiologist navigates through the blood vessels to access the AVM. This is usually done through an access point that is made at an artery at the wrist or in the upper inner thigh. A material such as a special glue or onyx is then carefully inserted into the abnormal vessels, blocking blood flow and reducing pressure within the AVM.
Recovery and Follow-Up
Following embolization, patients may stay in the hospital for observation and recovery. Some individuals may require multiple embolization sessions to achieve the best results. After the procedure, regular follow-up appointments and imaging studies are essential to monitor the AVM.
Benefits and Risks
Embolization offers several benefits, including reduced risk of bleeding and alleviation of AVM-related symptoms. However, like any medical procedure, embolization carries potential risks, such as blood vessel rupture, infection, or stroke. Your healthcare team will thoroughly discuss the potential risks and benefits with you before the procedure.
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