When the normal connection between arteries and veins inside a human body is disrupted by the absence of capillaries, it results in an arteriovenous malformation or AVM. It is in fact a tangle of blood vessels comprising of both arteries and veins through which a lot of blood passes and the overall circulation is compromised. AVMs are of many types but the most common are known as brain AVMs and they are also known as cerebral arteriovenous malformations. The signs and symptoms of these AVMs include headaches and seizures, and in some cases memory loss, dementia, confusion, and inability to concentrate and comprehend.
If you have a family history of AVMs and you experience one or many of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is strongly advised to seek medical help. You will have to visit your physician who would perform a number of tests to diagnose an AVM and confirm it with the help of some tools and methods. First, a physical examination will be performed to look for bluish or reddish patches on your skin especially if the affected area is also causing pain.
Following are some of the modern methods used for the diagnosis of arteriovenous malformations:
Computerized tomography is of two types; one is simply CT scan and the other is also known as CTA or computerized tomography angiography, both of these help to evaluate cerebral AVMs. Specialized x-ray equipment is used to take detailed scans of the affected area to look for any malformation. As it is clear from the name, the assistance of a computer is used to create these 2D and 3D images. A large x-ray machine is used for this procedure and the person who is being scanned has to pass through this machine. A CT is most commonly used to detect cancers or abnormal growths inside the body.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MRI is a procedure or scanning test that employs a magnetic field as well as radio frequency pulses to take photographs of the organs in order to detect a malformation. It is usually considered an advanced form of x-rays and ultrasound results because it gives a broader picture of what lies beneath. MRI is therefore a recommended approach to diagnose arteriovenous malformations in any part of the body. An MRI scan can be performed for the brain, the chest, bones, joints, and abdomen.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography
Similar to MRI, magnetic resonance angiography uses the same technology to see a picture of blood vessels inside the body to detect any issues and problems with the arteries and veins. A contrast material is sometimes required to differentiate between different blood vessels. This helps to reveal a malformation where no capillaries are present. Also known as MRA, this type of screening test produces 3D images that reveal a small AVM appearing to be brighter in color than a clot. This is one of the most advanced procedures used throughout the world for the detection of arteriovenous malformations in any part of the body including the brain.
?What Part of the Body Can it Occur in?
The most common AVMs occur in the supratentorial part of the brain and the spinal cord. However, this type of malformation, either compact or diffuse, can form anywhere in the body including any organ or tissue. Babies born with a bluish tint to their skin are most likely victims of a congenital AVM. Other affected areas may appear to be painful to touch, such as the upper part of the ear. It is important to keep track of the signs and symptoms in order to diagnose and treat an AVM correctly.