Vascular Malformations of the Brain & Spinal Cord

Houston Methodist vascular surgeons are national leaders in vascular malformation diagnosis, treatment and research. We bring decades of experience to every patient’s case, with personalized care plans and ongoing risk reduction strategies.

World-class neurosurgeons at the Houston Methodist Cerebrovascular Center diagnose and treat every type and severity of brain and spinal vascular malformations — rare abnormalities in the blood vessels and membranes. We use leading-edge technologies and the latest imaging techniques to perform precise, delicate vascular procedures.

Our experts provide comprehensive monitoring and treatment options — including clinical trial therapies that are not yet widely available at other institutions. Houston Methodist takes an interdisciplinary approach to provide custom treatment plans that address the immediate and long-term risks of vascular malformations. 

Diagnosing & Treating Vascular Malformation

How is a vascular malformation diagnosed?

Depending on the type of malformation, some patients do not have symptoms until their condition progresses. Those who do may experience severe issues, such as:


Diagnosis begins with a discussion about your personal and medical history. We will perform a comprehensive physical and neurological exam, as well as CT, MRI or magnetic resonance venography (MRV) and image fusion scans. The results will help us rule out other conditions and precisely identify your particular type of vascular malformation, such as:


What treatment options are available?

Small malformations that cause mild symptoms may not require immediate treatment. Houston Methodist’s neurologists will monitor your condition to watch for changes in malformation size, shape or symptom severity.

If you have a large malformation or severe symptoms, we will recommend an innovative, precise treatment to restore your quality of life and reduce the risk of future complications. Treatment options may include:


  • Embolotherapy – This nonsurgical injection blocks abnormal blood vessels so they can’t grow and eventually atrophy.
  • Sclerotherapy – Also nonsurgical, this injection causes abnormal blood vessels to collapse and scar, detouring blood through healthy vessels and reducing pressure.
  • Vascular surgery – Small, accessible malformations can be surgically removed.


After your procedure, you will recover in our state-of-the-art neurointensive care unit. Specialized nurses and neurologists will monitor your progress and recommend next steps, which may include physical or occupational therapy, depending on the severity of your condition.


I need advanced care or a second opinion.

Vascular malformation symptoms can mimic those of other neurological conditions. Getting a precise diagnosis is key in reducing the risk of serious complications.

Houston Methodist’s neurology team will provide a comprehensive evaluation to precisely identify the cause of your symptoms. From there, we will design a personalized treatment plan to reduce the impact of vascular malformation on your daily life and optimize your long-term neurological health.

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Clinical trials can provide hope for patients who have not had success with standard or “best known” treatments.
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