Gastric Arteriovenous Malformations

Understanding Gastric Arteriovenous Malformations

Arteriovenous malformations are considered to be rare by most hospital's standards. It is hard to get a good sample of symptoms and treatment results since there are very few patients going to hospitals with gastric arteriovenous malformations.

As reported by the GIE Journal, an elderly Asian man had horrible abdominal pain and melena. When examined, he also was tachycardic with a tender abdomen.

What Is Going On When I Have Arteriovenous Malformations?

Arteriovenous malformations are simply when imperfections occur in the blood vessels of the body. Gastric arteriovenous malformations are simply imperfections in the blood vessels in the GI tract. When this condition occurs, the connection between veins and arteries are disrupted. When the body cannot circulate blood efficiently, a number of reactions will occur that will be obviously noticeable by the patient. Developing a hemorrhage is the primary risk you should be concerned about.

Assesing The Risks Of Obtaining An Arteriovenous Malformation In The GI Tract

The causes of gastric arteriovenous malformations are still undetermined by medical professionals. One primary cause is assumed to be genetics as arteriovenous malformations seem to have a history in some families. A surprising amount is also found in child birth in either the baby or the mother. The instances of gastric arteriovenous malformations are even more mysterious to the medical community.

Signs and Symptoms Of Gastric Arteriovenous Malformations

In known instances of this condition, abdominal pain is the leading cause that brings patients into the hospital. The problem is that severe abdominal pain is associated with a large variety of conditions so a further assessment is needed.

Back pain is also typically found in combination with the abdominal pain. If the pain of your muscles, in particular, are bothering you, it is more likely to be related to circulation.

Since the circulatory system affects the heart, chest pain on the right side is another red flag of arteriovenous malformations.

Diagnosing arteriovenous malformations

With the combinations of the above symptoms, doctors would proceed into more specific examinations. A doctor will listen to the sounds of your veins to determine if the beat is irregular. After the physical examination, the usage of imaging technology may be suggested.

Using an MRI is probably one of the most effective methods to visualize the blood vessels in the body. Using this, the doctor will be able to determine if arteriovenous malformations are present. They will also be able to find the exact location of the malformation to see if it is really in the GI tract or another part of the abdomen.

An angiography is another method to visualize the blood vessels in a clear manner. A dye is injected through a catheter to color the blood vessels so that it shows up more obviously using imaging technology.

Using a magnetic resonance angiogram, the blood vessels will show up on the monitor. This is also one of the few ways for doctors to accurately diagnose the presence of gastric arteriovenous malformations.

Can It Be Treated Or Prevented?

Planning for the treatment of arteriovenous malformations will have to evaluate the current health of the patient. In most instances, medications are used as long as the patient can handle the side effects. Medications may typically be prescribed to lower blood pressure, reduce pain, alleviate headaches and other symptoms that arise.

If the arteriovenous malformations are hemorrhaged, bleeding, or significantly enlarged, surgery will likely be necessary. In the event of resection, the surgeons will use a high-powered microscope to accurately remove surrounding tissues of the malformation. The surgeon will then simply seal up the entry point with minimal scarring. This is the typical type of surgery for not too severe hemorrhaging.

Stereotactic radiosurgery uses radio waves to destroy arteriovenous malformations. This method is experimental but non-invasive since a doctor won't need to make an incision. The radio waves will target the malformed blood vessel to purposely cause scar tissue. This type of treatment is more typical for extremely small malformations that would be difficult to remove by hand.

The doctor may also use endovascular embolization, which consists of running a catheter through the arteries with the guidance of X-ray imaging. It will then inject a glue-like substance to block of blood flow to the malformation. This method is especially useful if blood needs to be redirected to another part of the body that was previously cut off.

Last Reviewed:
July 12, 2017
Last Updated:
October 24, 2017
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