How is an arteriovenous malformation diagnosed?

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An arteriovenous malformation, more commonly known as an AVM, is diagnosed by your doctor usually with the help of one or more common tests.

An MRI or CT scan would likely be used to produces images of the brain. For a scan, sometimes a dye is injected through a vein so that the arteries involved in the AVM can be viewed in greater detail. An MRI also provides images on the precise location of the malformation, which is very important for determining treatment options.

A cerebral arteriography (also known as cerebral angiography) is the most detailed test for diagnosing AVMs. A thin tube is inserted into an artery in the groin and threaded toward the brain. Dye is injected into the blood vessels of the brain, and X-rays are taken.
Rafael Alexander Ortiz
Neurosurgery

Brain AVMs can present with hemorrhage (bleeding in the head), seizures, headache, neurologic symptoms (i.e. weakness, visual problems), or incidental (asymptomatic). 

The common imaging tests to diagnose an AVM are:

  1. CT scan of the head
  2. MRI/A of the brain
  3. Femoral cerebral angiogram (invasive but most specific test). 

Management and treatment decisions are made depending on the age of the patient, signs and symptoms at presentation, and findings on the imaging tests.