AV malformation

Missing capillaries

Arterio-venous malformation is an AV or a blood vessel abnormality where the right capillaries are missing.

This occurs in 1 out of 250 to 1000 people and the cause is not well known. Normal arteries (artery), which carry the blood from the heart to the rest of the body, get smaller passing into the capillaries (capillaries). The blood flows slowly through it, exchange can take place from (food) substances: these substances ‘diffuse’ through the wall of the capillaries back to the tissue. Eventually, the capillaries are again bigger and the veins (veins) that bring the blood back to the heart and thus the cycle around. However, at an AV malformation in veins arteries go straight over. This can happen anywhere in the body. This may cause problems, but not necessarily. AV malformations, however, can grow and thereby a greater chance of possible problems.

Possible issues:

  1. Cosmetic problems when it is visible through the skin.
  2. The heart can become overloaded (by a so-called ‘shunt’ of blood of the arterial system to the venous system).
  3. Normally blood flows very smoothly through the blood vessels. At abnormalities of the blood vessels it can go slightly differently at a different speed or stream.  This can cause clotting problems.
  4. There is a chance that an AV malformation may start bleeding, this can sometimes be life-threatening.

Often a scan made with contrast dye in the blood vessels (CT Angiography) with which the blood vessels and the AV malformation. Because of the risk of blood clotting disorders will often also blood tests be done to this.

Each person will therefore have to be checked to determine if treatment is really necessary and if so, in what way. The treatments can create a chance of bleeding. An AV malformation can be treated in different ways. Endovascular treatment, in which the blood vessel itself (just as with a catheter that is inserted in the groin and step up to the heart to the coronary arteries to dilate at a heart attack) is a good option. In addition surgical therapy or radiation therapy treatments are also possible.

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