Excision of an AVM is just one of the treatment options available if you have been diagnosed with an AVM. An arteriovenous malformation or AVM is an abnormal cluster of blood vessels in the brain. It is an complex tangle or bulge of blood vessels producing an abnormal connection between the arteries and the veins. Often, these are not diagnosed until later in life, or may never exhibit symptoms, but if you are diagnosed with an AVM it can be a daunting prospect. They can interfere with normal blood flow and cause sudden headaches or even a stroke.
If treatment of the AVM Is required if is usually now completed successfully with gamma or CyberKnife radiosurgery or interventional radiology. However, on occasion (for example if the AVM has bled or it is in an easy to access area) surgery is still needed to treat an AVM and this is known as excision of AVM. The surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic so you will be asleep throughout. The surgery involves a craniotomy to access the AVM and delicate, careful removal of the AVM. It can take several hours. During the removal of the AVM the surgeon will seal off the AVM from the surrounding tissue and ensure the blood vessels are closed off before replacing the bone flap. To assist this delicate operation the surgeon uses very fine instruments and a high-powered microscope.
Your surgeon will explain the procedure in detail to you before hand and answer any questions which you have. The hospital team will explain ahead of time that you will need to avoid food and drink for a number of hours before the surgery – this is due to the general anaesthetic. Like all surgical procedures this surgery does carry risks and your surgeon will go through these with you.
After surgery you will be closely monitored and then as you recover from the anaesthetic you will be encouraged to move around slowly and gradually become more mobile again. You will likely have a post-operative angiogram to assess the excision of the AVM and you should be able to return home within a week of the procedure. Specific post-operative instructions will be given to you by your consultant and the nursing team.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.