About 300,000 Americans have what’s called arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), essentially flaws in the circulatory system that most likely develop in the womb or soon after birth. These tangles of arteries and veins keep blood from passing normally from arteries to veins, increasing the odds of bleeding in the brain, aneurysms and brain damage.
While the vast majority of these people will experience no symptoms and only learn about their condition through unrelated testing, about 12 percent of those with AVMs will experience symptoms—some so severe that they’re debilitating or even life-threatening.
Treatment provided at Valley’s Gamma Knife Center can help reduce these risks by using the technology’s high-energy, precise radiation beams to target an AVM’s tangles while avoiding healthy tissue. Gamma Knife stops their growth and, over time, almost completely removes them without the risk of infection, serious injury or death that can accompany conventional surgery. Despite its name, the Gamma Knife isn’t actually a knife, and there are no incisions. That’s why the Gamma Knife is a particularly good treatment option for people who have AVMs in areas of the brain that aren’t easily accessible via conventional surgery or are deemed too risky for surgery. It can also be a good choice for patients at high risk for surgical complications because of their health conditions.