Midway through the morning session of yesterday’s practice at Eagles camp, defensive tackle Mike Patterson collapsed on the field shortly after a drill. According to reports, he experienced a seizure lasting four minutes, during which he bit his tongue, causing bleeding from his mouth. The whole scene shook up the team and Patterson was taken away in an ambulance.
After being taken to the hospital, doctors diagnosed Patterson with AVM or arteriovenous malformation. Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder explained what that means.
“Mike has a congenital tangle of blood vessels right outside his brain,” Burkholder said. “We’re pretty sure that’s what caused the seizure, we’re pretty sure it’s not football related, and now the next course for Mike is that they’ll continue to do testing, possibly some at Lehigh Valley, possibly some in Philadelphia."
Les Bowen of Philly.com spoke with a Princeton neurosurgeon, who also happens to be an Eagles fan at Lehigh this week, who shed a little more light on what AVM is and how it happens.
“It’s congenital, not anything that would have been caused by playing football. Oftentimes what happens is, under certain conditions such as stress, dehydration, trauma, and whatnot, these things can tend to hemorrhage. The good thing is, it doesn’t sound like he had a brain hemorrhage.” (The Eagles said tests yesterday showed no bleeding on the brain.)"
In many ways, that makes it even scarier to know that Patterson has been playing football his whole life with this condition and really could have never even know about it.
Treatments for AVM range from radiation from a “gamma knife,” all the way to removing part of the skull for surgery. The most common treatment is much like the way a doctor would use a stent to open up an artery. Doctors can through a blood vessel elsewhere in the body to get to AVM and treat it. It all really depends on where it is located and how sensitive the area is. The latter treatment would likely not be career threatening for Patterson, but the others certainly could be.
There had been some reports that Patterson would need surgery, but his agent JR Rickert said in a statement that those reports were incorrect. In fact, he says the diagnosis isn’t even official.
Media reports are not accurate. Mike has not yet decided on surgery. He has not received an official diagnosis of a brain AVR and is continuing to be evaluated by multiple doctors. Once we know the course of treatment and timetable for recovery, Mike and his wife Bianca will decide how to proceed.
Obviously it’s a very serious situation either way.