Dancer/Actress Grateful to Surgeons at Lenox Hill Hospital For Treating Rare Brain Malformation

Alanna Chan enjoys dancing again after receiving surgery to remove rare brain malformation.

New York, NY – A 24-year-old professional dancer and actress from Seaford, NY, is grateful to surgeons at Lenox Hill Hospital (LHH) for having treated an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that could have threatened her career.

About a year ago, Alanna Chan started having consistent migraines on the right side of her head.  While most people may be inclined to ignore this symptom, Ms. Chan took it very seriously as she has a family history of neurological conditions, including her grandmother on her mother’s side who had a stroke and her other grandmother on her father’s side who passed away of an AVM.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and angiogram revealed that Ms. Chan had a brain AVM, a vascular lesion which consists of an abnormal tangle of  blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain, disrupting proper blood flow.

Ms. Chan was referred to David Langer, MD, LHH’s chief, division of neurosurgery and Rafael Ortiz, MD, LHH’s director of neuro-endovascular surgery and interventional neuroradiology. 

"Due to the AVM's large size, we recommended we treat it with staged endovascular embolizations, followed by a craniotomy to surgically remove the AVM," said Dr. Langer.

"In an embolization, a catheter is inserted into an artery in the leg and threaded through blood vessels to the brain, using x-ray imaging technology," said Dr. Ortiz. "The catheter is placed in one of the arteries feeding the AVM and embolizing agents Onyx and NBCA glue is injected to block the artery and reduces blood flow into the AVM. Blocking off blood flow, allows for a safer surgical resection of the AVM."

Three weeks after being discharged from the hospital this past August, Ms. Chan started a dancing training program at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet in Manhattan.

"The fact that the AVM could have affected my peripheral vision was a concern for me, but I am lucky that there was no loss of vision and as a dancer, that is so important," said Ms. Chan. "I am so grateful to Dr. Langer and Dr. Ortiz. When Dr. Langer saw I was nervous and he told me that he would do the same procedure on his own daughter if she had an AVM. From that point on, I knew I was in good hands. I never had a personal connection with doctors before, but Dr. Langer and Dr. Ortiz took such good care of me and they still do."

To make an appointment at Lenox Hill's Center for Cerebrovascular Surgery and Endovascular Neurosurgery, call 212-434-3900.

About North Shore-LIJ Health System -- North Shore-LIJ is changing its name to Northwell Health in January 2016.
One of the nation's largest health systems, the health system delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, and healthcare coverage to individuals, families and businesses through the CareConnect Insurance Co. Inc. The health system cares for people at every stage of life at 21 hospitals and about 450 outpatient physician practices throughout the region. The health system’s owned hospitals and long-term care facilities house more than 6,600 beds, employ more than 15,000 nurses and have affiliations with nearly 13,600 physicians. With a workforce of more than 61,000, the health system is the largest private employer in New York State.  For more information, go to

About Lenox Hill Hospital:

Lenox Hill Hospital, a member of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is a 652-bed, fully accredited, acute care hospital located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with a national reputation for outstanding patient care and innovative medical and surgical treatments. US News & World Report has ranked the hospital among the nation’s top 50 in Cardiology and Heart Surgery and among the top 10 hospitals in the state of New York with a total of 11 “high performing” designations for its clinical performance in Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Urology. For more information, go to

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