Mercy’s Dr. Timothy Tytle woke up March 6 facing an operation that he – even with hundreds of similar procedures under his belt – called, “darn difficult.” Dr. Tytle would be performing a procedure never before done in Oklahoma: placing a tiny stent-like device into an artery to mend an aneurysm in Mario Guzman’s brain. Because of Mario’s rare condition, this surgery was his only hope.
Mario, father of five, had a fusiform aneurysm – an unusual condition that was untreatable until Dr. Tytle and less than 50 other professionals nationwide began using the ev3 Pipeline Embolization Device, similar to a stent. It may sound like something out of Star Wars to the average Joe, but to Mario and his wife Alisa, it’s a lifesaver.
“We’ve created a conduit from a normal blood vessel to another normal blood vessel, and bridged the aneurysm,” said Tytle, an interventional radiologist. “Essentially, with this procedure, we can treat conditions that were previously untreatable.”
Two years ago, while undergoing tests to determine the cause of an unrelated illness, Mario received a CT scan which revealed unexpected news: Mario had a brain aneurysm.
“In a way, it’s a good thing I got sick and had those tests done,” said Mario. “Otherwise, we might not have found it.”
Mario’s right. Often, aneurysms go undetected because they rarely present symptoms. Eventually, Mario did experience symptoms that sometimes left him wondering his fate. When his headaches became intense, he worried that the aneurysm might burst, putting his life in real danger.
“He couldn’t blink his eyes or touch his hair because his head hurt so bad,” Alisa said. ”I was totally against [the surgery] in the beginning, but we talked and it’s the best option. If we leave it, then we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The surgery Mario and Alisa eventually embraced lasted three hours. While Alisa and her family waited in an area less than 100 yards from Mario, Tytle and his team ran a catheter from an artery in Mario’s groin to the aneurysm in his brain. One by one, Tytle guided four Pipelines along the catheter through Mario’s body to their destinations just behind his left eye.
A week later, Alisa reports Mario is healing well and plans to return to work next week.
“The first couple of days he had a dull headache, but that was it. Now, he’s good,” said Alisa. “Everyone at the hospital was great. We’re glad we made the decision we did and that everything turned out the way it did.”
Dr. Tytle was one of only 13 in the nation trained to perform the operation, at the latest surgery conference. This is the first time the procedure is available in Oklahoma.
About aneurysms and treatments: Aneurysms (dilations occurring in small areas of arteries) come in two major forms: saccular (a saclike swelling or protrusion on one side of an artery or blood vessel) and fusiform (swelling of the entire circumference of the blood vessel or artery). Blood flowing through the artery feeds the aneurysm which can eventually swell and burst, sometimes resulting in debilitation or death.
Historically, saccular aneurysms have been treated with a procedure called “coiling,” by which tiny metallic threadlike material is used to fill the aneurysm, preventing blood flow from filling and swelling the affected area. Unfortunately, coiling is not effective treatment of a fusiform aneurysm. Because of their shape, the coils will not stay in the fusiform aneurysms to prevent blood from entering them.
Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,500 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.