...of the thing that I have in my brain. I had never heard of it before so I'm looking it up tonight to earn more about it:
A cavernous angioma may have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they often depend on the location of the angioma and on the strength of the angioma walls. Cavernous angiomas can cause seizures. A person who suffers from seizures is said to have epilepsy. There are many types of seizure ranging from mild absence seizures to dramatic tonic-clonic seizures. Seizures tend to worsen with age and frequency. Most cases of epilepsy are well controlled with medications. The type of seizure a person experiences depends, in part, on the location of the cavernous angioma. If a person has seizures and more than one cavernous angioma, it may be difficult to pinpoint which cavernous angioma is the cause of the seizures.
Cavernous angioma can cause neurological deficits such as weaknesses in arms or legs, vision problems, balance problems, or memory and attention problems. As with seizure, the type of deficit is associated with which part of the brain or spinal cord the cavernous angioma affects. Symptoms may come and go as the cavernous angioma changes in size with bleeding and reabsorption of blood.
Cavernous angiomas can bleed in a number of different ways:
Angiomas can bleed slowly within the walls of the angioma and remain quite small. A small hemorrhage may not require surgery, but may be reabsorbed by the body. However, continued small hemorrhages in the same cavernous angioma often cause deterioration in function.
Angiomas can bleed more profusely within the walls of the angioma. This can cause them to grow and put pressure on the surrounding brain tissue.
Finally, angiomas may bleed through a weak spot in the angioma wall into the surrounding brain tissue. This is called an overt hemorrhage. The risk of hemorrhage is dependent on the number of angiomas. The higher the number, the greater the chance of one or more hemorrhages occurring sometime over a lifetime. Unfortunately, cavernous angiomas that have bled are those that are the most likely to bleed again, particularly in the first two years after their initial bleed. It is also important to note that a hemorrhage in a cavernous angioma in the brain stem can be life-threatening.
Finally, those with cavernous angioma may experience headache. This seems to be true particularly when a lesion has oozed recently.
Cavernous Angioma Statistics
1 in 100-200 people have at least one cavernous angioma.
At least 30% of those with a cavernous angioma eventually will develop symptoms.
At least 20% of those with cavernous angioma have the familial form of the illness.
Up to 40% of solitary cavernous angiomas may have an associated venous angioma.
Age at first diagnosis:
Under 20: 25-30%
Age 20-40: 60%
Over 40: 10-15%
Seizure – 30%
Neurological deficit – 25%
Hemorrhage – 15%
Headache – 5%
Odds of your child having cavernous angioma:
If you have sporadic cavernous angioma, your child may have a 1 in 200 chance (0.5%).
If you have familial cavernous angioma, your child may have a 1 in 2 chance (50%).
Diagnosis and Treatment
Cavernous angiomas are diagnosed most often when they become symptomatic. Although angiomas have been known since the 1930’s, they have not been reliably diagnosed until the advent of the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in the 1980’s. Previously, the illness may have been misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis or as a seizure disorder with no known cause. The cavernous angiomas were not visible on angiogram and were only inconsistently visible on CAT scans. An MRI scan, with and without contrast and with gradient echo sequences, read by an experienced physician remains the best means of diagnosing this illness. The MRI scan may need to be repeated to assess change in the size of a cavernous angioma, recent bleeding, or the appearance of new lesions.
Most cavernous angiomas are observed for change in appearance, recent hemorrhage or clinical symptoms. Medications are available to treat seizures and headaches caused by cavernous angiomas. Surgery is advocated for cavernous angiomas with recent hemorrhage, those which are expanding in size, and in some cases, those which are causing seizures. Radiosurgery, by gamma knife, linear accelerator or new shaped beam techniques, is a controversial treatment that has been used on cavernous angiomas too dangerous to reach through traditional surgery.
Well, that's the gist of it. I'm going to go watch a movie with my son. See ya later!