Cavernous Malformation Treatment

Cerebral cavernous malformation (CCMs), also called cavernomas or cavernous angiomas, are clusters of abnormal blood vessels found in the brain. It’s important to seek immediate medical treatment if you suspect you have a CCM, as the complications of a brain bleed are a major risk. While CCMs can occur anywhere in the body and often remain stable for decades, they can be life-threatening and cause neurological problems when found in the brain or spine. Bleeding in the brain is called a cerebral hemorrhage, which is a type of stroke.

Because cavernous malformations are so rare, most neurologists never see a patient who has one in their entire careers. The Department of Neurosurgery at Rutgers Health and RWJBarnabas Health treats cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) and spinal cavernous malformations (SCM) at our Brain & Spine Center. Our board-certified neurosurgeons usually recommend treating symptomatic CCM lesions if a patient experiences seizures that cannot be controlled through medication management. Surgery may be the best option for patients who have experienced symptoms.

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What Are Cerebral Cavernous Malformations?

CCM lesions are clusters of abnormal blood vessels that are prone to leaking and potentially causing seizures. This rare condition is estimated to occur in one of every 100-200 people, and most show no symptoms. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, only 30% will develop symptoms before age 30.

Symptoms of Cavernous Malformations

Although many people who have a cavernous malformation remain asymptomatic and unaware, some develop obvious symptoms of neurological problems. CCMs may cause seizures, vision issues, and severe headaches.

If you have the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Seizures
  • Sudden, severe headaches
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of sensation on one side of the body
  • Difficulty processing speech or speaking
  • Difficulty walking or balancing

Cavernous Malformation Treatment

For most patients, simple observation is sufficient if they are not experiencing symptoms and their CCM was found only incidentally. Sometimes intermittent testing with imaging scans is recommended as part of the “wait and see” approach. Those patients who do experience symptoms, such as seizures, may be prescribed medication or be good candidates for surgical removal of their CCM.

Prognosis of Cavernous Malformations

Most patients who have surgical treatment for CCM leave the hospital just a few days following surgery and resume their normal activities within a few weeks. Most patients are cured without neurological deficits, and those who had neurological problems regain their baseline (or the condition at the time of surgery) with rehabilitation. Those patients who have neurological deficits require more intensive rehabilitation. Many CCM patients who have had one bleeding episode will have frequent rebleeding.

Request an appointment online now or call 833-656-3876.