In this age of high-tech medical breakthroughs, some brain surgeons say it's a simple black "goo" that's yielding some pretty remarkable results. It's called Onyx. Doctors are injecting it into their patients' brains to treat AVMs, or arterio-venous malformations. They are tangled coils of arteries and veins. In the past, the only way to treat them was by performing risky operations to cut them out. Now, doctors can inject Onyx into the AVM with eye-opening results.

Louis Caragine, M.D. at Ohio State University Medical Center says he often injects the black goo into his patients on Mondays, and schedules them for follow-up surgery two days later. Lately, that hasn't always been necessary.

"I'm sometimes able to cure the AVM or reduce its size so substantially, that I don't feel it's any longer justified for me to take them to surgery on Wednesday and open their head," says Caragine.

In fact, a recent study showed that the Onyx liquid reduced the size of AVMs an average of 75%, and cured some of them altogether, making surgery unnecessary.*

It's estimated about three million Americans have AVMs, although many don't even know it until they rupture or cause seizures.**

"Patients normally do not know they have it, until it bleeds and usually can hemorrhage and cause a stroke when a patient is in their 20's, 30's or 40's," says Caragine.

Next, doctors want to test Onyx to see if it can help patients survive strokes.

*Brain AVM Embolization with Onyx, American Journal of Neuroradiology , January 2007, vol 28, 172 - 177.

**What is an arteriovenous malformation? American Stroke Association, retrieved February 2008

Ohio State University Medical Center

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