Why choose Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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Patient stories

Surgery takes care of cavernous malformation

Dan Smith was a graduate student in physics when he noticed occasional numbness in his left hand. His physician thought it might be carpal tunnel syndrome. When the numbness affected Dan's entire arm and cheek, the physician referred him to a neurologist. An MRI and a CT scan revealed a lesion the size of a [...]

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologists), brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons), brain imaging (neuroradiologists) and other specialties have experience diagnosing and treating people with cavernous malformations and other brain and blood vessel conditions (cerebrovascular conditions).
  • Team approach. At Mayo Clinic, doctors work together as an integrated team to diagnose and treat your condition.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in many areas study cavernous malformations and related conditions.


Mayo Clinic doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologists), brain imaging (neuroradiologists) and other specialties diagnose your condition.

Your doctor may diagnose cavernous malformations during testing for other neurological conditions. You often may not experience symptoms. Some people with cavernous malformations may experience seizures, bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage) or other neurological symptoms.

Doctors may order tests to diagnose cavernous malformations or other related conditions.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this test, magnetic and radio waves create detailed images of your blood vessels and your brain. Sometimes a doctor may inject a contrast dye into a vein in your arm to make the blood vessels in your brain visible on the images (magnetic resonance angiography or magnetic resonance venography). Doctors may discover cavernous malformations during an MRI for unrelated reasons.
  • Genetic testing. If you have a family history of the condition, Mayo Clinic doctors offer genetic counseling and tests to look for changes associated with cavernous malformations in genes or chromosomes.


Doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologists), brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons), brain imaging (neuroradiologists) and other specialties work with you to appropriately treat cavernous malformations and other neurological conditions.

Your treatment may include:

  • Observation. If you're not experiencing symptoms, your doctor may monitor your cavernous malformation with intermittent testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to watch for any changes in the malformation. Your doctor will also ask about any changes in your symptoms.
  • Surgery. If you're experiencing symptoms and your malformation can be reached surgically, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cavernous malformation.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery. In very rare cases, doctors may perform stereotactic radiosurgery, if your malformation is causing repeated hemorrhages and if it's located in an area that can't be reached by surgery. In this procedure, doctors use targeted radiation (stereotactic radiosurgery) to treat cavernous malformations. This procedure may lower the number of repeated hemorrhages. However, radiosurgery may not completely eliminate malformations and the procedure may cause complications, such as neurological problems.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks #1 for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Mayo Clinic: Answers you can trust

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

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Nov. 16, 2012