Why is embolization needed for an AVM in the brain?

Dr. Geoffrey P. Colby, MD
In some cases, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in the brain, particularly very large AVMs, have to be reduced in size in order to make surgery safer. They have to be reduced in size in order to minimize the chance of bleeding during the surgery, which is one of the key risks. Today that's done with by embolization (obstruction of a blood vessel) through a small and flexible micro-catheter introduced into the arteries of the brain. The catheter is used to place a glue-like substance and/or tiny platinum micro-coils into the abnormal blood vessels of the AVM to progressively block them off. Once they're blocked off, they're easier to separate from the brain tissue, and surgery can be done safely with less blood loss.

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