AVM (arteriovenous malformation) surgery closes an abnormal connection between blood vessels that usually occurs in the brain. AVMs prevent normal delivery of oxygen to vital brain tissue, which can result in symptoms or hemorrhage (bleeding) and rupture. AVM surgery, or resection, can prevent or treat these problems by removing the AVM.
At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, our expert neurovascular team can build a customized treatment plan for your unique AVM, based on its size and location. Our high-volume center performs the majority of AVM surgeries in the St. Louis region and can combine surgery with other treatments to provide you the best outcome.
In addition, we pioneer the use of the latest tools and most advanced equipment, including intraoperative angiography, which involves using real-time blood vessel X-rays during neurosurgery. This offers a less invasive procedure and reduces your risks associated with surgery.
Request a call to schedule an appointment with a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Why AVM Surgery is Performed
AVM surgery may be an option if the AVM is easy to reach within the brain and the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks. AVM surgery may be necessary if the AVM has bled into the brain.
If the AVM lies deep in your brain, surgery may not be possible without significant damage to normal brain tissue. In this case, other treatment options, such as radiosurgery or AVM embolization, may be safer. We may also perform these other treatments before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding and other complications, making the surgery safer. For more complex, high-grade AVMs, we are a national leader in combining methods to treat these otherwise untreatable AVMs. Our 80 percent success rate with this approach is one of the nation’s best for high-grade AVMs that need a combination of treatments.
Our neurosurgeons, neurointerventional surgeons, radiation oncologists, stroke neurologists, neuroscience nurses and more collaborate to weigh the risks and find the right treatment for each patient.
What to Expect from AVM Surgery
A neurosurgeon will perform your AVM surgery while you’re under general anesthesia. The surgery involves removing a piece of the skull (craniotomy) to access the AVM directly. Your surgeon will look through a microscope to magnify the area and carefully disconnect its blood supply with micro-instruments, so the AVM can be successfully removed and prevent future bleeding events. Other names for this procedure include microsurgery and microsurgical AVM resection. Your surgeon removes the AVM, reattaches the piece of skull bone and closes the scalp incision.
AVM Surgery Recovery
Your AVM surgery recovery time depends on whether or not the AVM bled into your brain. You will spend at least one day in our specialized, 20-bed neuro-intensive care unit (neuro ICU) following AVM surgery, then will be moved to our neuro nursing unit.
You may be referred to a rehabilitation program to help you recover from surgery. In the vast majority of cases, surgery successfully eliminates AVMs and the risk of bleeding. Ask your doctor about what to expect after your repair and for recovery.
To make an appointment with a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.