A brain AVM may be diagnosed in an emergency situation, immediately after bleeding (hemorrhage) has occurred. It may also be detected after other symptoms prompt a brain scan.
But in some cases, a brain AVM is found during diagnosis or treatment of an unrelated medical condition. You may then be referred to a doctor trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologist or neurosurgeon).
Because there's often a lot to discuss, it's a good idea to arrive well-prepared for your appointment. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you forgot or missed.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask questions that may come up during your appointment.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. For brain AVM, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- What are my treatment options and the pros and cons for each?
- What results can I expect?
- What kind of follow-up should I expect?
What to expect from your doctor
Your neurologist is likely to ask about your symptoms, if any, conduct a physical examination and schedule tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The tests gather information about the size and location of the AVM to help direct your treatment options. He or she may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
Avoid any activity that may raise your blood pressure and put strain on a brain AVM, such as heavy lifting or straining. Also avoid taking any blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin.