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What Is Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformation?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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A pulmonary arteriovenous malformation is a relatively rare medical condition that causes an abnormal opening to develop between an artery and a vein within the lung. This causes some of the blood that flows through the lungs to pass through without receiving a new supply of oxygen. Some of the potential symptoms of a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation include shortness of breath, a blue tint to the skin, and a reduced amount of oxygen in the blood. Treatment usually involves the use of a surgical procedure designed to close the abnormal opening and allow proper blood flow to resume. Any questions or concerns about a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation or individualized treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

In milder cases, there are no noticeable symptoms associated with the presence of a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. As the opening begins to grow larger, the patient may begin to develop mild to moderate shortness of breath, especially after any form of physical exertion. Dizziness or fever may be present in some cases, and moderate to severe headaches may occur. The skin may begin to turn blue and the patient may start to cough up small amounts of blood. Certain types of medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, should not be taken by patients with this condition due to increased bleeding risks.

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Blood tests performed on those with a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation usually show an increased number of red blood cells. Further testing may indicate a reduced amount of oxygen in the blood, a symptom that can have negative effects on all of the tissues and organs of the body. On rare occasions, a physical deformity known as finger clubbing may be present. Pulmonary arteriovenous malformation symptoms such as extreme breathing difficulty, blacking out, or a sudden and severe weakness involving the arms and legs should be reported to a doctor right away.

If the symptoms of a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation are mild or nonexistent, a doctor may choose to simply monitor the condition. Medical treatment may become necessary if the symptoms begin to interfere with the quality of life of the patient or present significant health risks. The standard treatment for a pulmonary arteriovenous malformation involves surgical intervention to repair the deformity. The patient will likely be monitored, and diagnostic testing will be performed periodically after the surgery in order to make sure that the malformation has not returned.

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