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Difference Between AVM and Brain Aneurysm

by | Jun 30, 2023

A brain AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in the brain, while a brain aneurysm is a weak or bulging spot in an artery wall that can rupture and cause bleeding.

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Understanding the Causes of AVM and Brain Aneurysm

The brain contains a series of tissues and blood vessels. Blood vessels can be vulnerable to damage. Two potential issues people face are aneurysms and AVMs. Many people have heard of aneurysms, but some may be less aware about AVMs. Both problems are dangerous, and knowing the differences is crucial.

Brain Aneurysms and AVMs

What is Brain Aneurysm? 

A brain aneurysm is when a bulge emerges in a blood vessel in the brain. Aneurysms form because an area of the vessel wall is weak, and they are common. Around 3.2% of people globally have an aneurysm.

Most cases are of unruptured aneurysms. A rupture can occur, and blood may leak. Most ruptured aneurysms happen between the brain and thin tissue layers. The Ultimate Guide to Brain Aneurysm post can help you learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this potentially life-threatening condition.

What Are the Causes of a Brain Aneurysm?

Before examining the relationship between brain aneurysm and high blood pressure, there are more underlying causes. Although the exact causes of a brain aneurysm aren’t always clear, several factors can contribute to the ballooning caused by the weakening of blood vessel walls. These include:

  • high blood pressure, or hypertension
  • a family history of brain aneurysms
  • the age and gender of the patient
  • smoking and drug abuse
  • atherosclerosis—plaque buildup in the arteries
  • in rare cases, head injury or infection of the blood vessel walls

We provide care and treatments at our specialized brain aneurysm clinic at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic in Singapore.

What is AVM?

Another condition that may develop is a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM is a disruption of the process of oxygen reaching the brain properly. Usually, this happens because the blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain become tangled.

Some people are born with an AVM. However, the malformation can develop later in life. AVMs are uncommon and affect less than 1% of the population.

What Are the Causes of AVM?

According to MedlinePlus, the exact cause of cerebral AVM is unknown. There is evidence to suggest that certain genetic factors or hereditary conditions may increase the risk of developing AVMs. For example, some inherited disorders have been associated with an increased risk of AVM formation. AVMs vary in size and location in the brain.

 

Is AVM the Same as a Brain Aneurysm?

AVMs and aneurysms involve blood vessels in the brain. There is a chance that an AVM can bleed. As a result, some individuals may assume AVMs and aneurysms are the same. The conditions may have similarities, but they are different.

Difference in Symptoms

Brain Aneurysm Symptoms

Most unruptured aneurysms do not cause symptoms, so they go unnoticed. A few may result in headaches or double vision. Ruptured aneurysms, however, lead to severe headaches. It may feel like the worst one you ever experienced.

Other signs may emerge. Aneurysms can lead to nausea, sensitivity to light, seizures, and a stiff neck. You should see a brain aneurysm specialist if you experience a loss of consciousness.

AVM Symptoms

Symptoms of an AVM do include seizures and headaches of varying degrees. Other warning signs are vision problems, dizziness, confusion, and numbness. Speech problems also can occur. Someone might have difficulty speaking or understanding another’s words. AVMs in the spinal cord cause back pain and muscle weakness.

Difference in Screening

Brain Aneurysm Diagnosis

Doctors usually diagnose brain aneurysms once someone shows symptoms of a rupture. Multiple screening methods are available to detect an aneurysm. One is an MRI, which uses radio waves to create detailed brain images.

Specialists also use an X-ray called a CT scan to create images of the brain. The doctor injects a dye to observe blood flow better. A doctor may perform a spinal tap instead. The cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spine may contain red blood cells from the ruptured aneurysm.

AVM Diagnosis

A doctor may use a CT scan or MRI to detect an AVM. Another screening method is cerebral angiography. The test is a detailed image of the structure of blood vessels. A special dye enters an artery to make the veins more evident on X-rays.

Alternatively, a specialist may perform a magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). An MRA records the speed and pattern of blood flow in irregular vessels.

Difference in Treatment

Brain Aneurysm Treatment

Treatment for ruptured aneurysms generally requires surgery. One common option is surgical clipping. The surgeon places a small clip on the blood vessel to stop the bleeding. A less invasive procedure called endovascular treatment uses a catheter to place a coil or stent on the aneurysm.

AVM Treatment

Endovascular embolization is one of the treatments for AVMs. It involves inserting a catheter, and the surgeon injects a substance to close the blood vessel. In other cases, the specialists perform stereotactic radiosurgery or excision of the AVM. Brain arteriovenous malformation treatment options call for advanced technology, a neurointervention specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, and an  experienced medical team. 

Treatment Options at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

AVM Risk Factors

According to the Mayo clinic, these factors may raise the risk:

  • Being male. Brain AVMs are more common in males.
  • Having a family history. In rare cases, brain AVMs have been reported to occur in families, but it’s unclear if there’s a certain genetic factor or if the cases are only coincidental. It’s also possible to inherit other medical conditions that increase the risk of brain AVMs, such as hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT).

AVM Treatment Options

Treatment of AVM in the brain is often complex and many times requires multi-disciplinary approach. The treatment options include surgery, radiosurgery and embolization. Depending on the type of AVM, some patients may be treatable using one of the techniques above while at other times, combined approach may be used. There are more several types of neurointerventional treatments we offer to treat different problems that occur in the brain.

 

What are the Risk Factors for Brain Aneurysm? 

There are not fully understood yet. Some of the known risk factors of cerebral aneurysm include

Brain aneurysm can also be dangerous when patients say they experience the worst headache of their lives.

 

Brain Aneurysm Treatment Options

Brain aneurysm is a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons or bulges out and fills with blood. The bulging aneurysm can put increased pressure on the nerves or brain tissue. It may also burst or rupture, spilling blood into the surrounding tissue (called a hemorrhage). Brain aneurysm is a fully treatable and curable condition. The best time to treat is before it ruptures. Traditional treatment method of open surgery called clipping is largely replaced in majority of patients with minimally invasive endovascular technique called coiling. This technique involves a 5 mm incision in the groin or wrist to get into a blood vessel. Through this, multiple small tubes called catheters and wires are advanced into the brain and the aneurysm is completely blocked from inside. No open surgery to skull is required with quicker treatment and recovery.

Consult a Specialist for Your Brain Aneurysm or AVM

Aneurysms and AVMs are two different conditions that can form in the brain. Nevertheless, both are serious matters. Reach out to Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic if you or a loved one have any symptoms.

Dr. Manish Tanjea, a certified neurointervention specialist, has extensive experience treating brain arteriovenous malformation and brain aneurysms. Come in for a further evaluation. Aa a well-trained AVM and brain aneurysm specialist in Singapore, Dr. Manish Taneja tailors treatment plans for each patient. Contact us today to arrange your appointment.

 

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Brain Aneurysm Resources

Discover brain aneurysm resources that go beyond the basics designed for patients. Understand the meaning of  a brain aneurysm condition, the causes, symptoms, signs, and more. Connect with your brain health.

Put Brain Aneurysm on Your Health Radar

Did you experience the worst headache of your life? Could it be a brain aneurysm that ruptures, which means bleeding in the brain? Thoughts could be racing through your mind. Then what is the difference between unruptured (a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons) or ruptured brain aneurysm? If you’re wondering, then the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to help. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale brain aneurysm symptoms, signs, causes, and risk factors.

Dr. Manish Taneja has been performing brain aneurysm treatments since 1995 from surgical clipping to latest minimally invasive procedures. Each patient is unique as is the size and location of the aneurysm. Your brain has different conditions to treat the aneurysm and artery vessel walls of a blood vessel in the brain. This calls for personalised brain aneurysm treatment depending on your symptoms, family, history, medication, and more. A simple CT scan could be just what the doctor ordered and the first step in early detection and prevention of a brain aneurysm. Come in for an easy consultation with our brain aneurysm specialist in Singapore to be on your health radar.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our neurointervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.