Brain Vascular Malformations

In this video, Dr. Bailey discusses the most common vascular malformations and reviews the most common grading system for arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), the Spetzler-Martin grading scale.

Introduction to arteriovenous malformations

Arteriovenous malformations are vascular anomalies consisting of feeding arteries, a nidus where the shunt is located, and one or more draining veins. AVMs can be compact or have a diffuse nidus. There can be surrounding gliosis and potentially calcification on CT or calcium sensitive imaging. Imaging will demonstrate flow voids,

Spetzler-Martin grading scale

The Spetzler-Martin scale gives a score between 1-5, with points assigned based on size (< 3 cm, 1 point; 3-6 cm, 2 points, and > 6 cm, 3 points), involvement of eloquent cortex (1 point), and involvement of deep veins (1 point). This score can help predict the potential surgical morbidity and mortality.

Arteriovenous fistulas

Arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are abnormal shunts most commonly from dural vessels. These are abnormal connections between these arteries and the dural venous drainage. Often external carotid artery branches will be dilated as they are the abnormal supply. There is arterialization of the dural venous sinuses. These are most common at the transverse-sigmoid sinus junction.

Cavernous malformations

Cavernous malformations are slow flow venous malformations that have well contained abnormal veins and vessels. They have areas of hemosiderin with T1 hyperintensity, T2 hyperintensity centrally and a peripheral hemosiderin rim. They may have an abnormal adjacent vessel or developmental venous anomaly (DVA). On CT, they may be hyperdense and can be confused with hemorrhage, but central calcification is a good clue. Multiple cavernous malformations can occur in familial syndromes.

Developmental venous anomaly (DVA)

DVAs are congenital venous malformations draining normal veins. These are the most common vascular malformation and are benign. They appear as a branching tree of abnormal venous drainage going to normal veins.

Capillary telangiectasia

These are slow flow capillary malformations that are incidentally found. They have stippled enhancement and you may see something on the blood sensitive imaging (GRE or SWI). There is usually no abnormal edema or FLAIR.

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