A facial AVM is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in the face. Blood vessels involved in a facial AVM include:
Normally, an artery gives rise to tiny capillaries. Nutrients and oxygen from your blood leave the capillaries to nourish the cells nearby. The capillaries then give rise to a vein which drains blood with wastes and less oxygen back to the heart.
In a facial AVM, however, blood goes from an artery directly into a vein. It’s a short circuit, since it avoids the capillaries. Because of heavy blood flow from the artery, the vein becomes engorged (enlarged) from too much blood. The engorged vein changes the appearance of the face.
The jaw is the most common location for a facial AVM, but it can involve many parts of the face. Facial AVM can cause blood vessels to grow too large, which can lead to:
Facial AVMs and brain AVMs are different conditions:
Brain AVMs are more dangerous when they rupture (burst) than are facial AVMs. However, both can be life-threatening. Learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of brain AVMs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Facial AVM is often congenital (present at birth). The causes of facial AVM are not yet known, though there may be genetic causes. More research is needed on the risk factors linked to facial AVM.
Facial AVM is diagnosed with a physical exam and imaging. Your doctor may use one or more of the following imaging methods:
There are two treatment options for facial AVM:
Adults with facial AVM are treated in the Center for Cerebrovascular Diseases. Our specialists who treat facial AVM include:
Since facial AVM can involve many different parts of the face, physicians and surgeons from multiple specialties will work together as a team to treat you. Your team of neurosurgeons and interventional neuroradiologists may collaborate with other specialists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, including:
The Center for Cerebrovascular Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is home to a team of neurosurgeons and interventional neuroradiologists including leaders in the treatment of facial AVMs. Our neurosurgeons are known for their clear communication, compassion, personal care and attention to patients.
To schedule an appointment with a physician in the Center for Cerebrovascular Diseases, please contact our patient coordinator at: (617) 732-6600.
If you are a physician seeking to refer a patient to the Center for Cerebrovascular Diseases, please call (617) 732-6600 or you can access our physicians’ office phone numbers. To contact one of our physicians with a question, patient referral or second opinion, you may also email: BWHNeurosurgery@partners.org.
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