Arteriovenous Malformations

Mother kissing her little baby boy

Arteriovenous Malformations

About Arteriovenous Malformations

Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM) form from tangled and abnormal direct connections between arteries and veins because the necessary capillaries are missing. The tangled connections can create visible skin lesions, or they may be invisible when on the brain, bones, muscles, or spinal cord. Without treatment, these lesions can grow larger and cause disfigurement, pain, ulceration of the skin, and even life-threatening hemorrhages, so it is extremely important to have your child seen by a vascular anomaly specialist.


Most AVMs form in the fetus during pregnancy, but others can be inherited or have a genetic component. Trauma or hormonal changes during puberty or as a pregnant adult later in life can cause them to grow bigger and become more active.


Arteriovenous malformations lesions can bleed or continue to grow aggressively. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Seizures, dizziness, headaches, or difficulty with memory and confusion if located in the brain.
  • Numbness or pain.
  • Pink discoloration.
  • Ulcerations and bleeding.
  • Enlargement of the surrounding tissue areas.
  • Stress on the heart and even heart failure.


Columbia specialists will diagnose your child’s AVM by using imaging techniques, including: 

  • Ultrasound to evaluate the blood flow as fast-flowing lesions are a sign.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to diagnose any abnormal connections of blood vessels and to measure the spread of the AVM in relation to other muscles and tissues.
  • Echocardiography to assess any potential stress on the heart.

Treatments We Offer

Columbia has a wide network of experts, including cardiologists, interventional radiologists, surgeons, and genetic specialists, to call upon to help reduce your child’s symptoms and the risk of life-threatening complications. We can block the blood supply to the area to stop the growth of the AVM and relieve symptoms. Some of the treatments used are:

  • Embolization to close off abnormal blood vessel connections.
  • Surgery to remove the AVM and prevent any possible regrowth.
  • The newest research into medications and targeted therapies such as MEK inhibitors that target cellular pathways that control the growth of blood vessels and help control pain and blood clotting may be helpful. Columbia doctors can determine whether you/your child could benefit from these non traditional/cutting edge treatments.

Why Choose Columbia?

Our team of vascular, heart, surgeons, radiologists, hematologists, oncologists, and plastic surgeons are experts in working together to help alleviate your child’s symptoms. We will correctly diagnose and treat your child with the utmost diligence, the most advanced care and with the compassion and experience your child and family needs.