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An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels that results from the blood flowing from the arteries to the veins without supplying freshly oxygenated blood that is vital to healthy brain tissue. A rare condition, AVMs can rupture or cause serious symptoms like seizures.
For AVMs that are small and difficult to reach, the Lipson Cancer Institute physics, radiation oncology and neuroradiology teams are offering an innovative technique that uses a linear accelerator to deliver small, highly precise doses of radiation focused directly on a mass, in this case the AVM. By delivering this targeted therapy, Chawla and her team can slowly shrink, close off and destroy the abnormal blood vessels in the AVM.
“This is a great option for patients with AVMs that would be otherwise difficult or dangerous to remove surgically,” said radiation oncologist Sheema Chawla, MD. “By using radiosurgery, we can reduce the size of larger AVMs before surgery to help lower the risk of bleeding and other complications, making surgery safer.”
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 this approach to treat AVMs that would be difficult or dangerous to remove surgically. Sometimes 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 Rochester General Hospital, your unique AVM case will be discussed by our radiation oncologist, neurosurgeon, neurointerventional radiologist, neuroanesthesiologists and other experts. Together, we will determine the safest, most effective treatment plan for you.
AVM radiosurgery is a type of radiation therapy performed by a neurointervention radiologist 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, we do many of these procedures each year, giving us the experience to perform each procedure faster with fewer complications and a quicker recovery time.
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 neurointervention radiologist and radiation oncologist 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 schedule a consultation today, call 585-922-4031.
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