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Wednesday Update: 01/18/06

Well, we had our appointments today and found out a lot of information. The angiogram showed that Matt does have a small AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation). This is a group of abnormal blood vessels. Part of the AVM ruptured, which then caused his hemorrhage. While we always knew this was a possible cause of the hemorrhage, we were never sure until now. Matt underwent an angiogram while in the hospital originally, however it did not show any malformations due to the increased swelling and blood in his brain…apparently it is not uncommon for these malformations to be hidden initially, which is why the Neurosurgeon wanted to follow up as he did a few months after the hemorrhage.

This is what we now know about Matt’s AVM:
· It is very small, but located in a difficult location to operate on.
· AVMs like Matt’s are unlikely to re-bleed, but it can happen. The likelihood of re-bleed is about 1% per year. Since Matt is so young, the chances of re-bleed increase overtime.
· There are 2 treatment options for Matt – surgery or radiation. Because the AVM is located in such a hard place to reach, the Neurosurgeon fears that possible complications resulting from surgery could be worse than if he did have another hemorrhage…so, he is recommending radiation.
· There is a new technology called Cyberknife available at Mercy Medical Center here in Des Moines. It allows for pinpointed radiation treatment to the exact area of the brain they are looking at, with little effect on the surrounding healthy tissue of the brain. It can attack the AVM from many angles, to ensure that it is as completely obliterated as possible. The patient usually has to undergo the treatment 1-5 times, depending on the case, and the radiation can take 12-18 months to fully take effect…but once it has, the AVM will be gone, never to return!

We are meeting with the doctor as Mercy on Monday, to discuss Matt’s AVM and to get more information on this radiation treatment. From what I’ve been told and read so far, this is the least invasive procedure, with little side effects, which should provide us the best results. The Neurosurgeon was very confident that given the small size of the AVM, we’ll be able to get it taken care of with this treatment and not ever have to worry about it happening again.

I know that a lot of you will be concerned…but please trust (as we do) that Matt will be fine. If anything, we feel a little relieved because now we know for sure what caused Matt’s bleed, where it is, and how to treat it. So, we both feel good that we’ll just do the treatment and move on…that then the AVM will be a thing of the past and we won’t have to worry about it happening again. Matt feels good. He says we’ll just do what we need to do to get through, and we’ll be fine. We both feel at peace with things. We have a good plan of attack, and know that God will see us through it. Of course, we’d rather not have to go through this at all…and we wish that the scan came back normal and fine. But, we are ok with the results we’ve received…and our faith will carry us through.


Hi Matt and Emily,

Neat pics and good information on the blog site!

Please let me know if there's a good time for me to stop by at the house ... will be gone next week to pick up my mom in NY and bring her to DM (Calvin Manor NH).

I can come by some evening (on a Tuesday except for the second Tue each month), or even on a Saturday afternoon if you have some free time.

We miss you at Westover Baptist Church! It was awesome to see you at Christmas Eve service in December!

Keeping both of you in my prayers,

Pastor Dean

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