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Health Information For Parents
An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between an artery (a blood vessel carrying blood from the heart out to the body) and a vein (a vessel returning blood to the heart).
It’s a shortcut that lets blood flow from an artery to a vein without passing through tiny vessels called capillaries. That’s important because oxygen and other nutrients can only pass from the blood into the body parts that need them in capillaries.
Blood that takes a shortcut through an AVM returns oxygen-rich blood to the heart instead of delivering it to the body where it’s needed. That means some of the heart’s work is wasted, so the heart has to work harder than usual. Large AVMs or multiple AVMs can waste so much of the heart’s work that it cannot keep up.
A child with an AVM may have these symptoms:
Many AVMs, especially those in the head, are not recognized until adulthood. AVMs in the head may cause:
Bleeding from an AVM can be hard to stop. Frequent bleeding may lead to anemia. Even small amounts of bleeding from an AVM inside the skull can be very dangerous. AVMs may grow larger and cause trouble by pressing on other parts of the body.
Arteriovenous malformations and venous malformations are types of vascular malformations (also called vascular anomalies). These are problems that happen when blood vessels (capillaries, arteries, veins, or lymphatic vessels) don’t develop as they should.
Doctors don’t know what causes AVMs. Kids who have them are born with them, and an AVM might get larger as the child grows.
AVMs can happen with some genetic syndromes, including:
An AVM is often found during an exam because a pulse may be felt in its vessels. Then, other tools may be used to learn more about it and plan treatment, such as:
The right treatment for an AVM depends on its location, size, and how it affects the child.
When a child’s heart must work harder than usual because of an AVM, prompt treatment is important to prevent permanent changes. An AVM also might be treated to improve pain, bleeding, or its appearance.
AVMs in the arms, legs, and body are easier to treat than AVMs in the head.
AVMs outside of the skull are treated with:
AVMs in the head are called intracranial AVMs and may be treated with embolization, surgery using radiation (radiosurgery), or surgery.
Embolization and sclerotherapy usually are done by interventional radiologists (doctors who specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments).
Treatment for an AVM depends on its location, size and the symptoms it causes. A small AVM that’s not in the head may never need treatment, but it could change as a child grows. Some AVMs get bigger, so it’s important to track its size and its effects on a child’s health and activities.
A venous malformation (VM) is a place in the body where veins haven’t grown the right way. VMs can be difficult to treat.
Do you know an older person whose legs look like a road map with all those blue and purple squiggly lines? They’re probably varicose veins.
Your body has a highway system all its own that sends blood to and from your body parts.
Birthmarks that babies are born with, or develop soon after birth, are mostly harmless and many even go away on their own, but sometimes they’re associated with certain health problems.
Birthmarks, also known as hemangiomas, get their name for one reason: They are marks on the skin of a lot of newborn babies! Find out more about birthmarks in this article for kids.
When Anna was born, she developed red spots that her parents learned were hemangiomas, benign birthmarks that she eventually outgrew. Her mother tells her story.
Neurocutaneous syndromes are genetic disorders that lead to tumor growth in various parts of the body. Learn how to maximize the quality of life for children with these diseases.
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a genetic condition that causes benign tumors in and under the skin, often with bone, hormone, and other problems. Learn more about how it’s diagnosed and treated.
For most kids, these birthmarks are no big deal â they’re just part of who they are. Read about port-wine stains, how to care for them, and, if necessary, what treatments are available.
This is a big word for a type of birthmark.
CLOVES syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder that causes vascular, skin, spinal, and bone or joint abnormalities.
A hemangioma is a growth of tangled blood vessels. Most hemangiomas grow larger for several months, then shrink slowly. Some will require treatment.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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