Arteriovenous Malformations in Children 

Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs) are segments of the blood vessels where there are abnormal
connections between arteries and veins. Most often, AVMs are congenital (present at birth).


- AVMs don't have the normal network of tiny vessels (capillaries) that bridge arteries and veins.
- AVMs are more common in the brain than in other regions.
- The causes of AVMs remain unknown, though progress is being made on this front.
- No known food, medication, or activity during pregnancy can cause an AVM.
- AVMs can cause bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage), reduced oxygen to brain tissue, and brain damage.
When very large and symptomatic soon after birth, they can cause heart failure because of their very
high-flow state.

Image-Guided Therapy

Dr. Darren Orbach and his colleagues in the Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center are pioneers in the use of image-guided therapy for the treatment of AVMs in children. Dr. Orbach uses sophisticated, high-resolution imaging technology to guide a micro-catheter into brain and spine AVMs to seal off the blood vessels feeding the AVM.

the Sage Schermerhorn Chair in Image-Guided Therapy Will Help Children with AVMs

The Sage Schermerhorn Chair in Image Guided Therapy was recently established at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Sage’s doctor, Darren Orbach, MD PhD, Chief of Neurointerventional Radiology, holds the chair. This is an endowed chair, meaning that it is attached to a fund that will carry Sage’s name in perpetuity; the investment income will support the incumbent’s research in image-guided therapy into the future. New gifts for this chair will be added to the chair’s operating fund, the same fund where the spin-off from the endowment goes, so that these new gifts can be put to use right away.


Dr. Orbach’s current research focuses on development of ever-more sophisticated imaging techniques and therapeutic approaches for diagnosing and treating vascular malformations of the brain. Examples of current projects include new imaging protocols that allow detailed visualization of the walls of blood vessel within AVMs, to identify potentially vulnerable regions with particularly thin walls that may be prone to hemorrhage, and the creative adoption of therapeutic approaches developed for adults, with modifications designed to address issues specific to children.

The Center for Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions
at Boston Children's Hospital

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