Seventy-three-year-old Bernadette Fields suffered with sinus problems for years before the real cause was revealed: a very large egg-shaped aneurysm behind her nose.
“They’re weaker than the regular vessel wall and it can explode,” said Dr. Ali Aziz Shultan.
He said when they rupture about half of the patients die.
“I went to one surgeon and he looked at it and said no nothing I can do. And he sent me to another one and he said nothing I can do. You have to go down to Jackson,” said Fields.
In June UM/Jackson neurosurgeon Aziz-Sultan became one of the first in the U.S. to use a new mesh stent called Pipeline to block off blood supply to the aneurysm.
“And we’re able to treat aneurysms we’ve never been able to treat in a short amount of time in a very safe manner,” said Aziz-Sultan.
It’s inserted through a small tube in the groin, that helps position the stent across the neck of the aneurysm.
“What the stent does is prevents blood from going inside the aneurysmm, and the aneurysm starts to clot off and shrink,” said Aziz-Sultan. It’s a process that can take days or months.
Bernadette’s case was so complicated three stents were used. Six months later, her aneurysm has disappeared.
But the procedure is not risk free. One percent of patients including Bernadette Fields suffer a stroke.
“It was in my hand in my leg, not my speech and I lost a little memory,” said Fields, of Davie.
She said it was a risk worth taking. She returned to work after a month and is 99 percent recovered.
The Pipeline Embolization Device has been used to block 30 aneurysms at Jackson since the summer. Aziz-Sultan wanted to wait before talking about it to make sure it works and it’s safe.