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Developmental Venous Anomalies

What are developmental venous anomalies?

A developmental venous anomaly (DVA) is an unusual or irregular arrangement of small veins that may look like the spokes of a wheel that drain into a larger central vein. They are benign (not dangerous).

DVAs also may be called venous angiomas or benign variations in venous drainage. Some doctors refer to them as caput medusae, a Latin term that means head of Medusa because the clump of veins resembles snakes on the head of the Greek mythological character named Medusa.

These unusual vein formations can occur anywhere in the body but are found most often in the brain or spinal cord. By some estimates, as many as 1 in 50 people has at least one DVA.

What causes developmental venous anomalies?

Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) are congenital malformations of blood vessels – this means a person is born with them.

What are the symptoms of developmental venous anomalies?

Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) generally do not cause symptoms. Many people do not know that they have one.

How are developmental venous anomalies diagnosed?

Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) have no symptoms and may only be found when you have imaging tests to look for the cause of other health problems. Imaging tests may include MRI or MRA, conventional angiogram, or specific types of CT scans that show areas of blood flow.

Most people may never know they have a DVA, and it will only be found after their death, if an autopsy is done.

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How are developmental venous anomalies treated?

Generally, developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) do not require treatment. These veins do a necessary job of getting blood in and out of the brain, so they do not need to be surgically removed or closed. Because they are normal and not dangerous, long-term imaging is generally not necessary.

Key points about a DVA

  • A developmental venous anomaly (DVA) is an irregular arrangement of small veins that may look like the spokes of a wheel that drain into a larger central vein.
  • DVAs are congenital—a person is born with them.
  • DVAs are not dangerous, and most people do not know if they have them.
  • DVAs may only be found when doing imaging tests to look for the cause of other health problems.
  • DVAs do not need to be treated.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

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