What Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Means for Drake White Going Forward
Drake White had a frightening experience when he nearly collapsed on stage during a show in Virginia on Aug. 16, followed by a hospital stay. The singer then revealed that he's suffering from arteriovenous malformation, or AVM.
According to the Mayo Clinic, arteriovenous malformation is "a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain." An AVM disrupts the process of the arteries carrying the oxygen-rich blood to the brain from the heart and the veins carrying the oxygen-depleted blood from the brain back to the heart and the lungs.
An arteriovenous malformation can occur anywhere in the body, with the most common places being the brain and the spine. The condition is a rare one that affects less than one percent of the population, and the cause has yet to be determined. Some people might not have any symptoms until the AVM ruptures, while others experience symptoms that include seizures, headaches, muscle weakness, numbness or paralysis, vision loss, difficulty speaking, confusion and extreme unsteadiness.
White revealed to People that he first began to experience symptoms of the AVM over the winter at his home in Nashville.
"That morning, I had worked out and went to a lunch meeting, and that’s when the headache started,” he says. “By 2PM I was in bed seeing spots in my left eye, and that’s when my left side started going numb. I tried to sleep it off but woke up with the same intense headache."
After making a trip to the emergency room, the "Making' Me Look Good Again" singer underwent an MRI and an angiogram before a neurologist came in to tell him of his condition.
AVM can be treated in various ways, with the first being surgical removal. Endovascular embolization is another option, in which a doctor inserts a long, thin tube into a leg artery and threads it through blood vessels to the brain using X-ray imaging. The doctor then injects an embolizing agent to block the artery and reduce blood flow into the AVM. Another option is stereotactic radiosurgery, where radiation is focused on the brain, but this can only be used if the AVM is small.
White has undergone four embolization treatments to treat the condition since he was diagnosed, with the most recent one taking place just four days before he collapsed on stage.
White's doctor, Dr. Robert Mericle, opened up to People about the singer's condition and why it takes more than one embolization procedure to remove the mass.
"Drake’s AVM was pretty big,” Dr. Mericle states. "Most AVMs require about three surgeries to get all of it, but we had to do more for him. Even when it’s gone, we will need to follow it for a couple of years to ensure we got it all."
However, there is good news for the singer, as Dr. Mericle goes on to say that they have "knocked out 75% of the mass."
White had been balancing his treatments and his touring schedule, but he announced on Thursday (Aug. 29) that he is taking a break from touring "in order to make a full recovery and get back to 100 percent."
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