Texarkana resident Bobby Redmond, 51, spent the first day of 2016 in the hospital to be treated for dizziness and blurred vision that he thought was related to his diabetes.
But he was wrong. After performing a brain scan, doctors found an abscess of about an inch in diameter on a blood vessel in his brain.
A brain aneurysm is an out-pouching in an artery caused by weakness in the vessel wall. As the aneurysm grows, it may cause neurologic symptoms such as headaches, vision loss,etc. Untreated cerebral aneurysms may rupture, resulting in hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke has potentially devastating consequences including severe functional disability, cognitive loss and death.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Redmond said. “Everything was going through my head. It was scary.”
Texarkana doctors referred him to Dr. Hugo Cuellar-Saenz, a neurologist at LSU Health Shreveport. Given the size of his aneurysm, Cuellar had to act quickly as it had a higher chance to rupture and cause a brain bleed.
“Once they burst, the odds of having a good outcome are much less,” Cuellar said.
According to The Brain Aneurysm Foundation, an estimated 6 million people in the U.S. have an unruptured brain aneurysm—that’s 1 in 50 people while the annual rate of brain aneurysm rupture is approximately 8 to 10 per 100,000 people. Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40 percent of cases. Of those who survive a brain aneurysm rupture, about 66 percent will suffer some neurological damage.
Cuellar used a device on Redmond called the Pipeline Flex, a fine mesh stent-like tube installed into the problem blood vessel to cause the aneurysm to wither away by diverting blood flow away from it. Before the Pipeline Flex, doctors would either have to remove the aneurysm by drilling into the skull or installing stents used normally in less delicate areas than the brain into the aneurysm until the swelling recedes. Both methods were more time and labor intensive, Cuellar said.
The Pipeline Flex is the only device of its kind approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The device was delivered into the affected blood vessel through his groin area, all the way through the body into the brain. Redmond was one of the first people in the country to use the device.
“The procedure went so well,” Redmond said. “It felt like I didn’t miss a beat.”
Redmond is a single father to an 11 year-old girl. He said he works 80 hours each week making car tires.
A recent follow-up on Bobby’s aneurysm in late September with Dr. Cuellar showed that the blood flow inside the aneurysm has stopped completely within a year of his surgery.
“He told me it was completely gone,” Redmond said. “It felt great. I thank God that they caught it in time.”