Symptoms of a Vein of Galen Malformation

In a newborn, a vein of Galen malformation may produce symptoms of congestive heart failure:

  • Respiratory distress, or fast breathing
  • Cyanosis, or “blue baby” syndrome

Newborns may also show signs of hydrocephalus:

  • Macrocephaly, or an unusually large head
  • Prominent veins on the scalp
  • “Sunset eyes,” meaning the eyes are cast downward and the whites are visible above the eyeball

Older infants may also show signs of hydrocephalus or may experience developmental delays.

In early childhood, symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Convulsive seizures
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Heart failure
  • Developmental delays

An accurate diagnosis is critical in order to begin treatment as early as possible. A vein of Galen malformation is an extremely serious condition that is best diagnosed and treated by highly trained experts at major medical institutions. (See Diagnosing and Treating a Vein of Galen Malformation.)

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  • Chair and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief
  • Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery
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Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan); 718-780-3070 (Brooklyn)

Reviewed by: Srikanth Boddu, MD, MSc
Last reviewed/updated: September 2023

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