Vein of Galen Malformations
Vein of Galen Malformation (VOGM) is a type of arteriovenous malformation that occurs when arteries within the brain connect directly to a very large vein in the center of the brain called the Vein of Galen. VOGMs typically present during early prenatal development and are found in-utero during ultrasounds or shortly after birth. Babies may present with heart failure due to abnormal shunting of blood through the brain or may be diagnosed around 1 year of age due to an abnormally large head.
VOGMs can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Early detection and treatment are critical for the best possible outcome.
The Center for Cerebrovascular Disorders in Children offers children and parents a collaborative group of experts that comprehensively diagnose and treat your child’s cerebrovascular disease, such as VOGM. We are among the very best in the region at performing the most advanced procedures and therapies for the treatment of pediatric cerebrovascular disease. 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 VOGMs . 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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The most common symptoms of a VOGM are:
- Heart failure immediately after birth due an abnormally high level of blood flow through the VOGM that causes strain on an infant’s heart and lungs
- Unusually prominent veins on the face and scalp
- Visible or palpable pulsations on the head
- Increased head circumference
- Failure to thrive or meet developmental milestones
- Bleeding in the brain, in rare or severe cases
Tests and Diagnosis
VOGMs are typically diagnosed with prenatal ultrasound or MRI. Following birth, an ultrasound of your baby’s head and an MRI are typically ordered to best determine the plan of care and approach for treatment.
- Treatment is provided through the collaboration of neurointerventional radiologists, neonatologists and cardiologists to offer a comprehensive and individualized approach to care.
- VOGMs require a minimally invasive procedure for embolization, which is performed in conjunction with a cerebral angiogram, using a process of injecting a special material or coils into a blood vessel, to cut off blood flow to the vascular malformation. Depending on the size and severity of the malformation there may need to be multiple embolization procedures.
What caused this to happen to my child?
A Vein of Galen malformation is a very rare condition with no known cause.
Is there treatment?
Yes, and early treatment is critical. Treatment includes a non-invasive procedure called an embolization, to close off the abnormal blood vessels. Several procedures over a period of months may be needed. Cardiac management by a pediatric cardiologist will also help to reduce the risk of heart failure.