UCSF or Stanford

I have been diagnosed with AVM last month and it has been a very rough ride understanding all about AVM. Thanks to this site, I can relate to all other members and get the positive energy needed to move on.

I really would like to know which is a better place for a AVM surgery and post operative care - Stanford (with Gary K. Steinberg) or UCSF (with Michael Lawton). Technically I live much closer to Stanford but I really would like to go the right / best doctor. I have heard good about both and I really need some honest opinion on deciding which doctor to go with. Please help me making a decision.

Thanks a lot.

My daughter had an AVM rupture and since it was an emergency situation we went to Stanford since it is the closest hospital. We felt so lucky that Dr. Steinberg is so highly acclaimed and he and Stanford were beyond excellent in helping my daughter. I only have good things to say about her care. It's complicated as she had the rupture was in a coma for 2 months, then had surgery and then embolization 5 months later. This happened two and a half years ago and I feel like Dr. Steinberg is a friend that I just don't see that often. My daughter was at the hospital and we called him up and went for a visit. We have emailed him personally here and there and he always returns our emails promptly.

I would consider proximity of treatment to where you live to be an important factor as well as where does your support group live. As time has ticked on my daughter had some ongoing medical conditions and I find comfort as well in knowing all her medical records are in one place.

I have heard wonderful things about Dr. Lawton too! So lucky to be living in an area where you get to make a choice!

Best wishes and if you have other questions let me know.

Shivangi - I would be happy to see you at UCSF, where we have a dedicated AVM team and take care of more than one hundred new AVM patients every year. I am very biased so I wouldn't say which program is better . . . MTL

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Hi Sandra,

Thanks for your reply. Sorry to hear that your daughter has some ongoing medical conditions. Are these medical conditions due to the AVM surgery at Stanford or something different?


Thanks MTL.

I had one more question - how much of post operative care is needed in such cases. Basically once the surgery is done, how often does the patient need to come to the doc office.

Thanks again.

The on going medical conditions are a result of the stroke she had when her AVM burst. My daughter's AVM was obliterated from the surgery and embolization and she hasn't had any complications from either procedure. My daughter had a MRI one year post the obliteration and all was good. I believe she will go back in 5 years for another one as because of her age, 19, when it burst, there is a slight chance of another AVM. The Stanford neurosurgery team has been excellent and I feel at any time I could call them or go there should my daughter need to go. Have you had appointments with either of the Drs. yet?


Hi and welcome to a site where folks are always happy to listen and be of service. I would like to take a slightly different path in responding to your request and say that this is a decision that only you can make. You've asked for others to express their opinions of their docs, but they are just that--opinions--and will, in my humble opinion (see there's another opintion, ha ha), act more as a distraction. Have you ever purchased anything on Amazon for example? All those reviews are mostly noise and can cloud the conversation making it harder to make a decision at all. :-)

So... my suggestion is that it might serve you better to ask survivors what were their most important questions that they asked when they visited their docs? What questions did they forget or not even know they need to know until later? What would they ask now that they're in recovery? Let their experiences help you form the best list ever so that you can go into this decision with a clear head and an open heart.

Wishing you all the very best.


Hello Shivangi! It looks like I deleted my answer as I wanted to add something…I was telling you that I am sorry for your tough ride, but I am also so happy for you to have found the site, and to live next to two teams with a high reputation! I do not know any of them, I met a specialist at Kaiser, Dr Cullen, who told me it was better not to do anything to my AVM as long as it does not bleed…He also told me that it is always good to have several opinions, and told me about the UCSF team - he said he does not know the Stanford team, but heard great things about them as well…
Sandradee seemed to have a wonderful experience at Stanford, you are saying you live closer to Stanford, that’s great!
For my part, I will meet the UCSF team in October, but I will probably try to meet the Stanford team as well, just to have a maximum of opinions, and they are pretty close to each other anyway!
But as Dina said, it is up to you:)
Best of luck!

Hi there Shivangi! From my most recent experience, I can honestly say Dr. Lawton.He has had over 7,000 successful craniotomy's done. I just had mine done in July with him and so far so good :)