Children's Hospital Colorado

Cerebrovascular Malformations (CVM)

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What are cerebrovascular malformations?

Cerebrovascular malformations (CVMs) are abnormally formed blood vessels in and around the brain and spinal cord. They may be harmless, but some cause neurological problems because of their size and location, or due to seizures or bleeding.

There are four types of CVM:

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are tangles of abnormal blood vessels.
  • Cavernous hemangiomas (also called cavernomas and cavernous malformations) are clusters of very wide, thin-walled blood vessels.
  • Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) are abnormally large veins.
  • Aneurysms are weak areas in the walls of arteries that balloon and bulge because of the weakness. 

What causes cerebrovascular malformations? 

No one knows for sure what causes malformations. Most AVMs, cavernomas and DVAs probably result from abnormal development of the blood vessels while the brain is growing. Most aneurysms and some cavernomas probably develop after the brain is already grown.

Who gets cerebrovascular malformations? 

AVMs and DVAs can occur in anyone. Cavernomas often run in families, especially families with Hispanic heritage; however, they also occur when no one else in the family has hada cavernoma. 

Aneurysms occur more often in adults, especially in those who smoke and have high blood pressure, but occasionally they occur in children.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Eileen Yager, MD

Eileen Yager, MD


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Tim Garrington, MD

Tim Garrington, MD

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Michael Handler, MD

Michael Handler, MD

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Ellen Dallow, CPNP-PC

Ellen Dallow, CPNP-PC

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner