Cavernomas, abnormal formations of blood vessels, can cause bleeding inside the brain. At St. Joseph’s Hospital, our expert neurosurgeons provide expert diagnosis and treatment for mild to advanced cases of cavernomas.
What is a Cavernoma?
A cavernoma, or cavernous malformation, is an abnormal cluster of blood vessels that grows inside the brain or spinal cord. Cavernomas often develop in the eye socket and press on the eye or optic nerve, causing vision problems.
Some cavernomas may not show symptoms, but many can bleed and hemorrhage. If unnoticed or untreated, this bleeding may become life threatening if it is in the brain stem, which regulates the heart and lungs.
What Causes a Cavernoma?
The causes of cavernomas are unknown, although they can be hereditary (passed from parent to child). Some are present at birth, but most develop later in life.
Symptoms of a Cavernoma
Cavernomas may cause physical and neurological symptoms depending on where they are in the brain. Common symptoms include:
- Problems with memory or attention
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Problems with vision
- Problems with balance
- Bleeding from the cavernoma
How is a Cavernoma Diagnosed?
If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor may suspect a cavernoma. The best way to confirm a diagnosis is through an MRI scan. This is an imaging test that takes pictures of tissue and blood vessels in your brain to look for abnormalities.
Treatments for a Cavernoma
If the cavernoma is not bleeding or causing other serious symptoms, the only treatment needed may be annual MRI scans to monitor your condition. For cavernomas that have become severe, our neurosurgeons may recommend one of the following treatment options:
- Stereotactic radiosurgery: Radiation therapy that targets the tumor and minimizes damage to nearby, healthy tissue
- Resection of cavernoma: Procedure that removes the cavernoma using special, tiny instruments and a microscope
Learn more about our treatments in the Neurosurgery Program at St. Joseph’s.
For more information or for a physician referral, please call (813) 644-4322.