Stories about: Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center

Courtney’s story: Piecing together a genetic puzzle

Courtney, who has Loeys-Dietz syndrome poses after her college graduation. Courtney Whitmore was born 22 years ago with a cleft palate, two clubbed feet and fists that were so tightly clenched they couldn’t be pulled apart. Since Courtney was an otherwise happy and healthy baby, neither her parents nor her doctor saw cause to be concerned about these seemingly unrelated conditions. What they didn’t realize was that these were the first clues to a genetic puzzle that would take ten years to unravel.

The next clue came at age 3.

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Finally finding answers for cavernous malformation

treatment for cavernous malformation

It was early morning and Tiffany and Joe Palowski were worried. Their son, Michael, was undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to determine the cause of his excruciating headache. The test — only expected to take about 45 minutes — now approached the two-hour mark. “They had to have found something,” Tiffany said as her panic rose. “I know they did.”

About 10 days earlier, Michael had gotten sick, vomiting so intensely that he began throwing up blood. The 6-year-old had spent a week in a local hospital with a suspected case of norovirus before being sent home. But then he’d developed a headache that wouldn’t clear up. Thinking he might have a migraine, the family returned to the same hospital in Connecticut. But now they wondered if more than a migraine was in play.

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Brain surgery for a cavernous malformation gets Timmy back to being a kid

surgery for cavernous malformation

Eight-year-old Timmy LaCorcia was having a bad day. He didn’t feel well and had to leave school early. It was frustrating — he usually had perfect attendance — but not alarming. After all, it was March, a time when children often struggle with colds and other illnesses. “We just thought he had a stomach bug,” says his mother, Gina.

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Cavernous malformations: What parents need to know

They’re among the more common cerebrovascular problems in kids. But few parents have heard of cavernous malformations until their own child is diagnosed. These small masses are comprised of abnormal, thin-walled blood vessels. While they can occur anywhere in the body, they’re most likely to cause problems when they form in the brain and spinal cord.

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