Cavernoma Program

Our CenterCavernoma Program

The Cavernoma Program specializes in advanced diagnostics to optimize treatment decisions, including state-of-the-art brain imaging and genetic profiling of vascular malformations to identify targets for therapeutic intervention.

A cavernoma, also called a cavernous malformation (CM), is a vascular abnormality generally found in the brain or spinal cord. Made up of a cluster of abnormal, dilated vessels, blood flows slowly and pools in these “caverns” causing it to appear red to purple in color and have the appearance of a raspberry. Cavernomas contain blood products at various stages of evolution and are usually less than 3 centimeters in size.

Our goal at the Cavernoma Program is to optimize medical management and minimize the need for surgery wherever possible. When refractory cavernomas do progress to require surgical removal, we offer leading-edge minimally invasive microvascular techniques, championing “keyhole” approaches. Benefits include safe corridors that minimize damage to surrounding brain tissues through smaller incisions that reduce post-operative discomfort, faster healing and recovery, and better cosmetic results. Our expert team of neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, vascular biologists and geneticists are leaders in the field of precision therapy for cavernomas, working together to offer patients multidisciplinary team-based care.

If you, a family member, or a friend has been diagnosed with a cavernoma or other vascular malformation, our team of experts is here to help you understand your condition and determine an optimal, personalized treatment plan for your needs. Our aim is to provide our patients with a connected experience of care built on clinical and research excellence.

While a new diagnosis of brain cavernoma can produce natural anxious responses in many patients, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone — cavernomas can occur in as many as 1 out of every 200 people – and our team of experts is here to help you understand your condition and determine an optimal, personalized treatment plan for your needs.

We use state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques (called diffusion tensor tractography, gradient echo and susceptibility weighted sequences) that allow for noninvasive and computational treatment planning. Most cavernomas only need to be observed with routine brain imaging, repeated over time to observe for changes in appearance, recent bleeding (“hemorrhage”) or appearance of new lesions. Medications are optimized in a patient-specific manner to treat seizures and headaches caused by cavernomas. The Cavernoma Program is also a leader in advanced research initiatives to develop targeted molecular therapies with the goal of preventing new cavernoma formation and protecting against symptomatic bleeding.

If however, refractory cavernomas progress despite optimal medical therapy to require safe surgical removal, our neurosurgery team is specialized in minimally-invasive microvascular techniques with “keyhole” approaches that minimize damage to surrounding brain tissues through smaller incisions that reduce post-operative discomfort and provide better cosmetic results.

Cavernoma diagnosis and treatment

Learn more about our Cavernoma research


We appreciate that you have options for your care, and value the opportunity to be your partner in health. Here are a few facts about the Cavernoma Program:

  • Minimally invasive, personalized treatment.
    For patients who require treatment for cavernomas and other brain vascular malformations, our comprehensive team of neurosurgeons, stroke neurologists and interventional radiologists offer all forms of advanced therapy, including minimally invasive microvascular neurosurgery and noninvasive adjuvant therapies. This broad expertise and multidisciplinary approach allows our team to provide optimal treatment for each individual patient.
  • Experienced physician leaders.
    Our physician scientists are leaders in the field, with extensive track records publishing medical literature that defines new standards of care and pushes innovative new techniques in precision therapy, including garnering numerous awards for clinical and research excellence. Our dedication to academic research is based in a commitment to improving clinical treatment options and quality of life for every one of our patients.
  • Award-winning hospital.
    Providence Saint John’s Health Center is the only hospital in California to receive Healthgrades® America’s 50 Best Hospitals™ award 9 years in a row, and our state-of-the-art operating suites and specialty neurovascular staff are dedicated to the care of cavernoma patients.