SAN ANTONIO — An arterial venous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in the brain. They form in less than one percent of the adult population, but still, can be deadly.
This is the story of an AVM patient, who underwent successful surgery to remove his brain vessels leaking blood. His only warning? A very bad headache.
A few months ago, Charles Hernandez was starting his day, but his head was killing him.
“I woke up with a severe headache on the right side,” he explained.
Charles started the drive to work, and promptly slammed into a parked car.
“I saw it in front of me, but I couldn’t react.”
In the emergency room, he couldn’t even tell doctors what happened, but brain scans brought the story to light.
“The doctor said that I had three aneurysms with bleeding in the brain,” Charles said.
As Baptist Health System in San Antonio, Texas vascular neurosurgeon, Justin Mascitelli, MD, explained, “Charles had an arterial venous malformation, which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins inside the brain. On the arteries that were feeding the malformation, they had developed aneurysms over time.”
Those kinds of aneurysms can rupture and cause instant death. Fortunately, when Dr. Mascitelli operated on Charles’s brain, the AVM was in an accessible place.
“His AVM was on the top, in the back, and it was on the surface. We make an incision and use a microscope to go into the brain and remove the AVM,” Dr. Mascitelli said.
“Next thing I know, they are bringing me back to my bed,” Charles says.
He recovered with surprisingly few after-effects.
“We looked at each other, my wife and I, and tears were rolling down," Charles said. "I think of the people that don’t survive or have other issues, so, I’m blessed."
Doctors say a headache from an AVM or aneurysm is unlike the headaches most people normally experience. If you or a loved one have those symptoms, head to the E.R. right away. Time is critical for treatment.
Watch more news, weather and sports on News 8's YouTube channel