Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are abnormally formed blood vessels located in the brain, the spinal cord, the covering of the brain (dura) or the nerves of the skull. CCMs are also referred to as cavernomas, cavernous angiomas, cavernous hemangiomas or intracranial vascular malformations.

Symptoms of cavernous malformations

Some people with CCMs may not experience any symptoms. For those who do, symptoms will vary based on the location and characteristics of the malformation and may include:

  • Balance problems
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speck
  • Memory or attention problems
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Vision changes
  • Weakness in the arms or legs

Causes of cavernous malformations

While most CCMs occur without an apparent cause, an estimated 20 percent of patients with CCMs are affected by an inherited form of the disorder. In addition, CCMs can occur following focal brain radiation therapy.

Diagnosing cavernous malformations

Given many people with CCMs don’t exhibit symptoms, a diagnosis of CCM may result from brain imaging or other neurological conditions. Tests specific to diagnosing CCMs include:

  • Brain MRI scan
  • Genetic testing

Treating cavernous malformations

Treatment will depend on the nature of the CCM and may include:

  • Monitoring and observation
  • Medication for seizures
  • Surgery to remove the malformation

Heart and vascular specialists

The experienced heart specialists at Houston Heart are experts at diagnosing and treating all types of heart and vascular disease.

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