If you believe your child is currently showing signs of having a stroke it is important to visit an Emergency Room or call 911 immediately.
What are Cerebral Cavernous Malformations?
Cerebral cavernous malformations, also called cerebral cavernomas, are abnormally formed groups of enlarged blood vessels, capillaries and venules in the brain. Oftentimes, these malformations can cause blood flow to the brain to become interrupted and slow drastically. Additionally, the swollen capillaries and venules may leak and hemorrhage blood into the brain. These disruptions in blood flow to the brain can often cause a stroke.
Cerebral Cavernous Malformations Symptoms
Some children with cavernous malformations may not experience symptoms at all, while others may suffer from a variety of problems. The symptoms experienced typically depend on the location of the malformation and may include seizures, painful headaches, bleeding and hemorrhaging in the brain, dizziness, double vision and weakness or fatigue.
If you believe your child is suffering from these types of symptoms or showing signs of having a stroke, it is important to visit an Emergency Room or call 911 immediately.
Diagnosing Cerebral Cavernous Malformations
Diagnosis of cerebral cavernous malformations usually does not occur until symptoms occur.
Diagnosis begins with a history and physical exam. During the medical history interview, the medical team may ask about any history of trauma, infection, delayed development and if there is a family history of bleeding problems. The physical exam will look for any signs of weakness, numbness and other signs that may be associated with a stroke.
Diagnosis Testing May Include:
- Brain imaging studies. Special tests that make pictures of the brain called MRI, MRA, or CT scan are done to look for evidence of stroke in the brain.
- Blood tests. Blood is taken to look for signs of infection and blood clotting abnormalities.
- Heart studies and blood vessel studies. Heart rhythm is checked with an EKG and special pictures of the heart and blood vessels may be taken to look for abnormalities.
- Lumbar puncture. Fluid is taken from the spinal cord area to look for signs of bleeding or infection in the brain.
- Angiography. Imaging test to visualize the inside of blood vessels and organs.
- Venography. X-Ray procedure to visualize veins.
If you believe your child is showing signs of having a stroke, it is important to visit an Emergency Room or call 911 immediately.
Treatment of Cerebral Cavernous Malformations
Cerebral cavernous malformations are often treated by a neurologist or neurosurgeon. There are a wide range of treatment options available for these malformations, all varying in effectiveness. The type of treatment used will depend on the cause of the blood vessel malformation, the age of the patient, the severity of symptoms and medical history.
Treatment of cerebral cavernous malformations may include:
- Fluids given intravenously to avoid or reverse dehydration
- Anticonvulsant drugs to prevent and control seizures
- Blood transfusions
- Surgery to remove the cerebral cavernomas from the brain
- Antithrombotic agents, for treating abnormal blood clotting