Society highlights nonsurgical treatment for arteriovenous malformations

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The Society of Interventional Radiology is promoting a nonsurgical treatment that can be undertaken by interventional radiologists to treat arteriovenous malformation (AVM). This is the condition which has been in the news following Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) hospitalization and surgery due to a ruptured malformation.

AVMs are blood vessel abnormalities that if left untreated, can rupture causing life-threatening bleeding. Interventional radiologists can often treat these abnormalities without surgery by using imaging to guide a catheter inside the body to the site of disease and then inject blocking agents (beads, glue, or coils) that block the supply of blood. This treatment, embolization, removes the risk of rupture/hemorrhage, the organization said.

"As nonsurgical vascular experts, interventional radiologists can stop the blood flow of a ruptured arteriovenous malformation. This prevents additional damage to the brain, as well as provides neurosurgeons with a clear line of sight for their repair or curative procedure," explained Director of Interventional Radiology, Robert L. Vogelzang, MD, at Northwestern University in Chicago, in a statement released by the organization.  "Often, nonsurgical embolization is the sole treatment for AMVs.  Interventional radiologists use embolization to also treat uterine fibroids, cancer, male infertility, post-partum hemorrhage, gun shot wounds, and ischemic strokes."