Cavernoma or cavernous malformation is a vascular abnormality of the central nervous system. There is a group of abnormal, dilated vessels in this disease. They look like a raspberry and they are usually smaller than 3 cm. cavernomas are seen more commonly in some people than others.

Who gets cavernomas and what is the frequency?

Cavernomas are seen with the same frequency in both men and women and in all races. The frequency is higher in patients with a family history. Rarely, one person can have more than one cavernomas. Cavernomas can be seen anywhere in the brain. The incidence in the population is about 5 in one thousand.

What are the signs and symptoms of cavernomas?

Most of the cavernomas don’t cause any signs and symptoms, while some may cause seizures, progressive neurological symptoms, cavernoma bleeding and headache.  The symptom that starts the diagnosis process can be headache in many patients. Sometimes patients can present with double vision, sensory disturbances, and weakness in one side of the body or paralysis. Presenting symptoms are closely related to the location of the cavernoma in the brain. Some patients can present with seizures to the emergency department and the investigations for the cause of seizures can reveal cavernoma. The presenting symptom in approximately 35% of patients with cavernomas is seizures.

Cavernomas are revealed after bleeding in almost 25% of patients. This is the most serious result of cavernomas. Bleeding of cavernomas usually start with headache. Headache starts suddenly, is followed by nausea and vomiting. As the conscious is gradually lost, neurological problems arise. If the bleeding is small, there may be no signs or symptoms.

Are there any measures to prevent cavernomas from bleeding?

There is no known measure.

How are cavernomas diagnosed?

Cavernomas can be diagnosed with CT or MRI. Both radiological diagnostic tests can reveal the location and size of cavernomas in the brain. Cavernomas cannot be visualized with brain angiography.

How are cavernomas treated?

If a cavernoma causes these symptoms, treatment options should be considered: neurological dysfunctions, bleeding, unbearable symptoms and uncontrollable epileptic seizures. The treatment of cavernomas is surgery.


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