Cerebral or Spinal Arteriovenous Malformations and Dural Arteriovenous Fistulas

Cerebral or spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVMs) are rare tangles of blood vessels on, in or near the brain or spinal cord. They represent an abnormal and relatively fragile connection which allows blood to pass directly from arteries to veins, bypassing the capillaries. AVMs can lead to seizures or can cause bleeding into the brain or spinal cord, with potentially serious brain or spine injury as a consequence. The disruption in normal blood flow can also deprive the surrounding cells of needed oxygen and nutrients, leading to deterioration of brain cells or spinal tissue.

Dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVFs) are a subtype of AVM where the abnormal connection is between an artery in the covering of the brain or spine (dura mater) and a vein draining the brain or spinal cord. A dAVF can cause high-pressure blood from arteries to directly enter veins that are only accustomed to low-pressure blood. This can affect the normal drainage of blood and lead to swelling of the brain or spinal cord, or even to rupture and bleeding, with neurological damage as a result.


  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Bleeds
  • Stroke-like symptoms