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.
Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) are congenital malformations of blood vessels – this means a person is born with them.
Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) generally do not cause symptoms. Many people do not know that they have one.
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.
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.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200