Cavernous Malformations

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Symptoms of a Cavernous Malformation

Many people with a cerebral cavernous malformation will never experience any symptoms. In others, a cav-mal may cause:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unsteadiness or loss of balance
  • Hearing or vision changes
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain)


Since these symptoms can be signs of many different conditions, a doctor will generally order an MRI scan of the brain to diagnose the problem. (See Diagnosing and Treating a Cavernous Malformation.)

In some people, symptoms seem to come and go, lessening for a while and then coming back again. This may mean that the cav-mal has caused a small hemorrhage, which worsens the symptoms; as the leaked blood is reabsorbed into the brain the patient feels better, only to experience symptoms again with the next small incident of blood leakage.

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Reviewed by Jared Knopman, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: October 2017