Quick response and minimally invasive procedure helped save Anne’s life
It was a typical Sunday morning for Anne Geloran.
She and her husband, Reg, of 33 years, went to church and when they got home, she made breakfast. After eating, she put a load of laundry in the machine and sat down to read the newspaper.
“I started to feel strange. I had a headache with pain that started from my head and came down to my chest,” the 67-year-old said. “It was a headache I never experienced before, crushing my chest like something was tightening around me.”
Her husband dialed 911 and she was taken to Flagler Hospital’s ER in St. Augustine, where they live.
A CT scan of her brain showed that Anne’s life was in danger, so doctors called the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, where she was taken by helicopter. As the regional center for advanced treatment of strokes, aneurysms and other brain conditions, the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center works with area hospitals in Florida and Georgia.
Neurovascular surgeon Eric Sauvageau, MD, who oversees the center with Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, said Anne had a ruptured aneurysm. To treat her quickly and in the least invasive manner, a catheter was guided through a small cut in her groin to an artery and then into the small blood vessels in her brain.
Dr. Sauvageau put thin, soft metal wires into the aneurysm that coil up into a mesh ball to prevent further bleeding and blood flow from re-entering the aneurysm.
“Frequently, we can access the aneurysm from inside the artery and place a loop of platinum like an internal Band-Aid,” Dr. Sauvageau said. “By doing so, it prevents the aneurysm from bleeding again.”
Anne said she owes everything to thefast action of the doctors at Flagler Hospital, and Dr. Sauvageau and the team at Baptist Jacksonville. “I could have ended up having a stroke or dying if the aneurysm burst.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Dr. Sauvageau saved my life,” Anne said. “He did a fantastic job. He doesn’t forget about you. He followed up after I got home to see how I was doing. He’s very compassionate.”
Eric Sauvageau, MD
Director, Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center
What is a brain aneurysm?
A brain aneurysm is a weak section of the wall of the artery in your brain resembling a very thin-walled balloon filled with blood. Over time, blood flow presses against the aneurysm wall causing a build up in pressure which may cause a rupture, flooding the area around the brain with blood, which is known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Brain aneurysms occur more frequently in women than men. They can happen at any age but the majority of people with a brain aneurysm are diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 60.
Risk factors include:
- Immediate family members with brain aneurysm
- High blood pressure
- Some familial disorders (Polycystic kidney disease, Ehler-Danlos, Fibromuscular dysplasia)
Symptoms of brain aneurysm
Unruptured brain aneurysms usually have no symptoms and most are small, measuring less than one inch. However, as the aneurysm increases in size, it may begin to compress the delicate nerves coming out of the brain and cause localized headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty speaking or swallowing, numbness/weakness in the arms or legs, memory problems, and seizures. Ruptured brain aneurysms are life threatening and require emergency care; they typically cause “the worst headache of your life.”
Screening and early detection
About 4 percent of the general population have brain aneurysms but only a small fraction of these require treatment. For this reason, screening is recommended only in patients with a significant family history of brain aneurysms. You should be screened if you have one or more first-degree relatives with
a brain aneurysm. Screening involves obtaining an MRA or CTA of the brain and repeating every 5 to 10 years. Talk to your doctor to determine if you should be screened for a brain aneurysm.
To contact the Baptist Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center, call 904.448.3416.