Clinical and radiographic features of 63 patients with a vascular malformation of the brain stem are described. On radiological grounds they were divided into two groups: one with angiographically visible lesions (AVAVMs), the other with lesions not seen angiographically, that is, occult (AOVMs). In the first group the initial clinical manifestation was due to haemorrhage in 20 of the 33 cases and consisted of a progressive neurological deficit in 12. In the second group 29 of the 30 initially presented with a brain stem haemorrhage. The latter was often characterised by development of symptoms over two days or more (16 cases), absence of headache (48 cases) and tendency to recurrence (20 cases). Clinical diagnosis was difficult in many cases especially in the AOVM group. Several of the patients were misdiagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Clinical data in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging were helpful in determining the nature of these lesions.
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