Brain edema associated with unruptured brain arteriovenous malformations

Bum Soo Kim, Dipanka Sarma, Seon Kyu Lee, Karel G. Terbrugge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Introduction: Brain edema in unruptured brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) is rare; this study examines (1) its frequency and clinical presentation, (2) imaging findings with emphasis on venous drainage abnormalities, and (3) implications of these findings on natural history and management. Methods: Presentation and imaging features of all unruptured brain AVMs were prospectively collected in our brain AVM database. Neurological findings, size, location, venous drainage pattern, presence of venous thrombosis, ectasia, or stenosis, and brain edema were specifically recorded. Treatment details of all patients with brain edema and their clinical and imaging follow-up were reviewed. Finally, a comparison was made between patients with and without edema. Results: Brain edema was found in 13/329 unruptured brain AVMs (3.9%). Neurological deficit (46.2%), venous thrombosis (38.5%), venous ectasia (84.6%), stenosis (38.5%), and contrast stagnation in the draining veins (84.6%) were more frequent in patients with brain edema than without edema. Eight patients with brain edema received specific treatment (embolization∈=∈5, surgery∈=∈2, radiosurgery∈=∈1). Clinical features correlated well with change in degree of edema in six. Three of five embolized patients were stable or showed improvement after the procedure. On follow-up, however, intracranial hemorrhage developed in three. Conclusion: Brain edema in unruptured brain AVMs is rare, 3.9% in this series. Venous outflow abnormalities are frequently associated and appear to contribute to the development of edema. Progressive nonhemorrhagic symptoms are also associated, with a possible increased risk of hemorrhage. Palliative embolization arrests the nonhemorrhagic symptoms in selected patients, although it may not have an effect on hemorrhagic risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Arteriovenous malformation
  • Brain edema
  • Endovascular embolization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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