Cavernous Malformations | Diagnosis & Treatment

How are cavernous malformations diagnosed?

Cavernous malformations are usually diagnosed and evaluated by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT). Unlike most other cerebrovascular conditions, cavernous malformations are difficult or impossible to see on angiograms, because the blood flow within the malformations is very slow and because the vessels feeding them are so tiny.

How are cavernous malformations treated?

Most children who don’t have symptoms will never notice any ill effects of the cavernous malformations and do fine with a "wait-and-see" approach.

If the cavernous malformation bleeds, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is a good option if there is a single cavernous malformation that is clearly the cause of the child's symptoms and is located in a part of the brain that can be easily accessed. Most children have excellent outcomes from surgery.

Expert care for cavernous malformations

Our expert clinicians in the Boston Children’s Hospital Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center are highly experienced in treating cavernous malformations.

In addition to treating the cavernous malformation itself, we bring together a team to address any neurologic problems it may have caused, including neurologists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language therapists.

Learn more about the surgical management of cavernous malformation in this webinar from Ed Smith, MD, director of Pediatric Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery at Boston Children's and the Angioma Alliance.

Sharing our journey with cavernous malformations

Gary was diagnosed with a cerebral cavernous malformation later in life. He was “shocked” when he found out his newborn daughter had one, too.

Gary Fuller holds his daughter Finley outside Boston Children