Cavernous malformations (or cavernomas) are abnormally formed clusters of blood vessels in the brain. In this condition, tiny blood vessels called capillaries group together. They grow with extremely thin walls that can leak easily. These clusters of blood vessels can be less than 1/4 inch to 3 to 4 inches in size.
Most of the time, cavernous malformations cause no problem. However, in some cases, these formations can burst and bleed into the brain, which can lead to seizures or neurologic deficits. Symptoms of cavernous malformations depend on the location and size of the malformation. Although children sometimes have symptoms, most people who have symptoms are between 20 and 50 years old. Symptoms include headaches, seizures, change in hearing, weakness, or paralysis.
While most cavernomas are simply monitored, cavernomas that cause seizures or neurologic deficits from bleeding can be treated. The only effective treatment for cavernomas is surgery. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, advanced microsurgical techniques and intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring are used to maximize the safety and success of surgery.