Pediatric Cavernous Malformations

What are Pediatric Cavernous Malformations?

Cavernous malformations, also known as cavernous angiomas, cavernomas or cavernous hemangiomas, are an abnormal tangle of capillaries and small veins. These tangles, or caverns, fill with blood or tissue, resulting in popcorn-like formations. These formations can occur anywhere in the body, but the most serious are those that form in the brain or spinal cord.

The exact cause of a cavernous malformation is not well understood, though genetics may play a role. 

The Center for Cerebrovascular Disorders at Children's Health offers children and parents a collaborative group of experts that comprehensively diagnose and treat your child’s cerebrovascular disease, such as cavernous malformations. We are among the very best in the region at performing the most advanced procedures and therapies for pediatric cerebrovascular disease treatment. Each of our primary team members  works solely in the pediatric setting with a clinical interest in disorders of the cerebrovascular system.

This program is the only one of its kind in Texas, and one of a handful across the nation. It offers a unique level of expertise in the management and treatment of patients with aneurysms specific to children and adolescents. We are the only program in Dallas to offer pediatric neurosurgery and neuro-radiology coverage 24 hours a day by specialized, dedicated pediatric providers.

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What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Cavernous Malformations?

The symptoms of a cavernous malformation depend upon the location. In the brain or spinal cord, the malformation can cause:

  • Seizures
  • Painful headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Vision changes
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding and hemorrhaging in the brain

How are Pediatric Cavernous Malformations diagnosed?

Cavernous malformations are typically not diagnosed until symptoms appear. To diagnose a cavernous malformation, your child’s doctor will do a detailed physical examination. You will be asked if your child has had any trauma or infection and if there is a family history of bleeding problems. Additional tests may include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan – This test uses X-rays to produce multiple images of the inside of the body. These three-dimensional pictures of the brain can show the cavernous malformation and if there is evidence of a stroke.
  • MRI with Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) – This procedure uses radiofrequency to create accurate two- and three-dimensional images of the arteries in the neck and brain.

What are the causes of Pediatric Cavernous Malformations?

The exact cause of a cavernous malformation is not well understood, though genetics may play a role. 

How are Pediatric Cavernous Malformations treated?

If your child is not experiencing any symptoms from the cavernous malformation, your doctor may want to monitor the condition with routine MRI scans.  If treatment is necessary, the type of treatment is determined by your child’s age, symptoms and medical history. Treatment options include:

  • Medication to control seizures or prohibit blood clots
  • Surgery to remove the cavernous malformation

Pediatric Cavernous Malformations Doctors and Providers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the outlook for my child with a cavernous malformation?

    Sometimes a cavernous malformation does not produce any symptoms or cause any concern. If symptoms need to be treated, medication can be effective. There are different surgical techniques that can successfully remove the cavernous malformation.