Cavernous Malformation

The cavernous sinus is a hollow area behind the eyes. Cavernous malformations are blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord that develop abnormally. If a cavernous malformation suddenly bursts, it can cause stroke or even death.

Overview

Symptoms

A cavernous malformation doesn’t always cause symptoms, and even when it does, symptoms may appear and disappear over months or years. A malformation can press on parts of your brain that control speech, vision or movement. 

Symptoms include:

  • Coordination problems
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Headaches
  • Hemorrhage
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Vision or speech problems
  • Paralysis, weakness or numbness

Diagnosis

First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam and to discuss your medical history and symptoms. Then, your doctor may check for neurological disorders by ordering imaging tests, such as an MRI, a CT scan or an EEG.

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Treatment Options

Treatment plans depend on the size and location of the malformation, the symptoms it’s causing and a person’s age. 

Treatments include:

  • Watchful waiting 
  • Anti-epileptic medication to control seizures
  • Brain surgery to remove the mass
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery using CyberKnife®, in which a non-invasive, robotic system delivers high radiation therapy to tumors with pinpoint accuracy

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