Mayo Clinic doctors trained in nervous system conditions (neurologists), imaging specialists (radiologists) and other doctors diagnose spinal arteriovenous malformations (AVM).
To diagnose spinal arteriovenous malformations, your doctor will conduct a neurological examination. Your doctor also may order several tests to diagnose your condition and rule out other conditions.
Tests may include:
- Angiography. In angiography, a doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an artery in your groin and guides it to your spinal cord using X-ray imaging. A doctor injects dye into blood vessels in your spinal cord to make them visible under X-ray imaging. Your doctor uses this test to check the location and characteristics of the blood vessels feeding and draining the AVM.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a series of images to create a detailed, three-dimensional view of your spinal cord. Sometimes a doctor may inject a dye into your arteries to view the blood vessels in greater detail (CT angiogram). Your doctor uses this test to check the location of the AVM and detect other conditions.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of your spinal cord. Sometimes a doctor may inject a dye into a blood vessel to view your blood vessels and show the blood circulation in your spinal cord (magnetic resonance angiogram [MRA]). An MRI shows the exact location of the arteriovenous malformation, which helps your doctor determine your treatment plan and assess your risk.
Read more about CT scan and MRI at MayoClinic.com.