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Brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are tangles of arteries and veins in the brain that are abnormally connected, usually from birth, leading to a variety of neurological symptoms. In rare cases, they are associated with conditions that run in families.
In normal blood circulation, oxygen-rich blood from the heart travels at high pressure and speed through arteries that branch into smaller and smaller vessels, ending in capillaries. In the capillaries, blood flow slows down and loses pressure, allowing the body to take the oxygen it needs. The depleted blood then moves into the veins and returns to the heart and lungs to pick up more oxygen.
In brain AVMs, the pattern is abnormal. Blood travels directly from the arteries to the veins through a tangle of abnormally formed, small, very irregular vessels. This direct connection, bypassing the capillaries, prevents the blood from slowing down, losing pressure and releasing its load of oxygen. This can cause several problems:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”