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Embolization of arteriovenous malformations

Our main goal is to provide our patients with the best and safest therapy that is tailored to their situation. The treatment of arteriovenous malformations primarily focuses on preventing bleeding, but treatment to mitigate seizures or other neurological complications may also be considered.

Treatment options

Several treatment options exist for AVMs of the brain. They can be used alone or in combination:

  • Endovascular embolization: After a groin puncture, we access and treat the vascular malformation via the arteries and veins. During the procedure, we insert plastic tubes (catheters) through the femoral artery and into the AVM and inject an agent that occludes its blood vessels. Endovascular embolization is less invasive than traditional surgery. It can be used alone or as a supportive measure before surgery since it reduces the size of the AVM and decreases the likelihood of bleeding. As a supportive measure, it makes the succeeding operation safer.
  • Surgical removal (resection): The AVM can be surgically removed in a neurosurgical procedure, with or without preoperative embolization.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS): During this intervention, radiation is precisely directed at the AVM. The radiation damages the blood vessels of the AVM, leading to scarring, and, as a consequence, to the  descrution of the AVM.
  • Conservative treatment: As an alternative to invasive methods, conservative treatment (without surgery) is also considered. This is appropriate in cases where the risks of invasive treatment outweighs the natural risks of the disease.
Gefässmissbildung
Vascular malformation (arteriovenous malformation) in the blood vessels of the head. The AVM is visible as a vascular tangle.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Treatment of an AVM helps reduce the risk of brain damage from a hemorrhage or stroke. It also helps prevent re-rupture after a previous hemorrhage.
  • However, complications can occur during treatment. These include: Cerebral hemorrhage during or after embolization and during microcatheter navigation or cerebral infarction due to occlusion of the normal cerebral vessels.
  • The risks that come with an embolization treatment must be assessed individually for each patient. The attending physician will discuss them with the patient. The benefits and risks of treating the AVM are always evaluated by an interdisciplinary team of experts.

Why choose the USZ?

Many years of expertise

Our clinic is an internationally renowned institution in the field of diagnostics and minimally invasive, image-guided treatment. We treat diseases of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, associated organs (eyes, auditory, vestibular, etc.), and surrounding structures of the head, neck and spine.

Latest treatment methods

At the Department of Neuroradiology, we strive to offer the best possible treatment to every patient. We therefore use the latest interventional methods, the most advanced materials and instruments, and cutting-edge imaging techniques.

Partner network

Additionally, we hold weekly interdisciplinary conferences with experts from neurosurgery, neurology and neuroradiology during which we develop an individual therapy concept for each case. To guarantee optimal treatment selection and patient care our experienced neuroradiological interventionists further collaborate with experts from other clinics as well as with outstanding nursing and rehabilitation specialists before, during and after the intervention.

The course of treatment

Treatment starts with the diagnosis and the decision to use minimally invasive methods. After discussing this with you during a consultation, we will schedule a timely appointment, which is in keeping with the urgency of your case and your special wishes.

The treatment requires a hospital stay of four to six days. You will arrive the morning before the procedure and we will assess your current status and make the final preparations. We will use this opportunity to answer any questions you might have. On the day of the procedure, you will be taken from the ward to one of our two operating rooms, where the surgical team will meet you and perform the procedure.

Immediately after the procedure, you will be examined to make sure everything went well. We will then transfer you to a specialized monitoring ward where you will be cared for until the next day. On the following day, you will undergo a magnetic resonance examination to assess the surgical outcome and rule out any complications. Normally, you will then return to the standard ward and after another one or two days you will consult with a specialist and can then go home. During this last consultation, we will schedule appointments for further check ups.

Hospital stay 4 – 6 days

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please have your physician refer you to our clinic or to register you for the neurovascular consultation hour. If you have any questions, please contact our patient secretariat.

Tel. +41 44 255 56 01

For referring physicians

Register your patient for our neurovascular consultation hour through the online form or through an e-mail to the patient secretariat.

Tel. +41 44 255 56 01