The cause of AVM (Arteriovenous malformation or Arterio-Venous Malformation) is unknown. It is believed to be a birth defect, caused by incomplete formation of the circulatory system. Arteries connect directly to nearby veins without normal intervention through capillaries. Capillaries allow blood to reach bone, muscle, brain and organ tissue. Areas of the body un-served by these minute vessels are often desensitized or less functional due to the lack of nutrition or oxygen.
The good news is that AVM's are becoming better understood and discovered. Treatment options have been radically improved in recent years, along with partnered discoveries in neurological and surgical techniques.
The bad news is that symptoms may be misdiagnosed or so minor that early detection is difficult. The symptoms can be easily connected to other diseases/trauma (cancer, migraine, stroke, physical injury). Often the AVM goes unnoticed till it bleeds, which can be too late for those with AVM's in vital organs or head. Though not all AVM's are located in the brain, an estimated 50% are so located.
The diagnosis of malformations in organs or brain require expensive or exposure risky tests (CT scan, MRI) and are therefore not generally prescribed. Medical practitioners research other potential options trying to eliminate less complicated possibilities before moving on to AVM.
There are an estimated 300,000 victims of AVM in the United States, many of whom are in their teens or younger.
Muscle Weakness (body wide or specific location)
Other symptoms may include:
Misdiagnosis is very understandable as many of the symptoms are mild enough to allow normal life. Victims can go on living for many years, some for life, without development of life-threatening or function limiting events.