AVM (arteriovenous malformation) radiosurgery is a procedure to treat an abnormal tangle of blood vessels. AVM is a rare condition, but most often occurs in the brain. It results in blood flowing directly from the arteries to the veins without supplying freshly oxygenated blood to vital brain tissue.
Offered at Barnes-Jewish Hospital using the Gamma Knife, AVM radiosurgery treatment is an effective way to prevent a rupture or serious symptoms like seizures. Barnes-Jewish is an Academic Medical Center (AMC) and partners with Washington University School of Medicine, allowing us to pioneer the use of advanced treatments like AVM radiosurgery.
Request a call to schedule an appointment with a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Why AVM Radiosurgery is Performed
AVM radiosurgery treatment—also called stereotactic radiosurgery—treats small AVMs and those that have not caused a life-threatening hemorrhage (brain bleed). Our specialists also use it to treat AVMs that would be difficult or dangerous to remove surgically. We also use radiation treatment to reduce the size of large AVMs before surgery to help lower the risk of bleeding and other complications, making surgery safer. At Barnes-Jewish, we can combine treatments to treat large AVMs. This specialized option is not available at other centers in the St. Louis region.
Your unique AVM case will be discussed by our neurosurgeons, neurointerventional surgeons, stroke neurologists, diagnostic neuroradiologists, neuroanesthesiologists and other experts. Together, we will determine the safest, most effective treatment plan for you.
What to Expect from AVM Radiosurgery
AVM radiosurgery is a type of radiation therapy performed by a neurosurgeon and a radiation oncologist. During this procedure, a small, highly precise dose of radiation is focused directly on the AVM. This slowly shrinks, closes off and destroys abnormal blood vessels. Your neurosurgeon will use computer guidance to locate and target the AVM.
You will have local anesthesia to keep you comfortable during the procedure. A frame will be attached to your head to keep it absolutely still during the treatment.
There are very few risks or complications of AVM radiosurgery treatment. It’s similar to getting an X-ray, so you should not feel pain with the actual treatment. As a high-volume neurological center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital treats over half of the AVMs in the St. Louis region each year. This experience allows us to perform each procedure faster with fewer complications and a quicker recovery time.
AVM Radiosurgery Recovery
You will likely go home the same day after stereotactic radiosurgery. In most cases, you can resume normal activities within a day or two.
Your neurosurgeon will continue to monitor your AVM after radiation treatment through follow-up appointments. These appointments help your doctor stay current with your progress and recognize even subtle signs and symptoms of a change in your condition. It can take a couple of years for radiation treatment to fully resolve the AVM.
To make an appointment with a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 888.994.2545.