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About AVMs

Most people with neurological AVMs experience few, if any, significant symptoms, and the malformations tend to be discovered only incidentally, usually either at autopsy or during treatment for an unrelated disorder. But for about 12 percent of the affected population (about 36,000 of the estimated 300,000 Americans with AVMs), these abnormalities cause symptoms that vary greatly in severity. For a small fraction of the individuals within this group, such symptoms are severe enough to become debilitating or even life-threatening. Each year about 1 percent of those with AVMs will die as a direct result of the AVM.
 
An arteriovenous malformation, or AVM for short, is a group of blood vessels that are abnormally interconnected with one another. AVMs can occur in different organs of the body, but brain AVMs are the most problematic. Another term for AVM is "arteriovenous fistula."
 
To understand why brain AVMs are dangerous it is important to first understand the way that normal blood vessels are connected with one another:AVMs can form in almost any part of the body although most commonly in high blood flow areas such as the brain and legs. AVMs can form in almost any part of the body although most commonly in high blood flow areas such as the brain and legs.
 

The Normal Artery-to-Vein Connection

There are two main types of blood vessels: the arteries and the veins. Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from the heart and lungs into organs such as the muscles, bones and brain, and veins bring it back to the heart and lungs where it is re-oxygenated. As the arteries travel deeper and deeper into the tissues, they become thinner and thinner, until they reach a point of maximal narrowing - this area is known as the capillary bed. Blood flow slows down in order to be transferred from arteries into veins.
 
Thus, one of the most important functions of the capillary bed is to relieve some of the pressure generated by blood as it flows through the larger arteries into the tissues.My AVM - Click to see the image at full sizeMy AVM - Click 
 
Veins spring out of the capillary beds, and they get progressively larger as they exit the organs on their way to the heart and lungs, where blood is finally replenished with oxygen.

Like most of you

 

I’ve compiled piles and piles of notes, synced with a tower of medical bills into a picture of my medical story. As soon as I could hold a pen I began to record not only the milestones of recovery but more importantly, what I experienced. The latter really doesn’t have anything to do with the process of AVM recovery but illustrates the actual ‘alternate realities’ that I existed in during the crucial first three months after my crash. After a two month long periods of increasing sleepiness and dizziness, I began a series of MRIs at top facilities in the Los Angeles area. In the fall of 1999 I was diagnosed with a small arterial ventricle malformation (AVM) located in the left parietal area of his brain and was slated for surgery the next month.