After Aneurysm Surgery: Patient Hits the Ground Running
Bettina Richards has learned to appreciate the value of a second opinion. Not only did a second opinion save her life, it allowed her to live her life the best way possible — her way.
Last year, Richards was training for a triathlon and experienced a headache so painful and debilitating she went straight to a local hospital, where doctors found a life-threatening balloon-like bulge in a vessel in her brain — an aneurysm the size of a golf ball.
The news not only startled Richards, but it seemed to unsettle her health care team as well, she says. Their reaction, as well as their recommendation — major surgery involving drilling holes in her skull — didn’t give Richards confidence.
A friend recommended she come to Rush University Medical Center, where she met with endovascular neurosurgeon Demetrius Lopes, MD, who specializes in minimally invasive approaches to treat aneurysms. The team at Rush put any fears she had to rest. “I was never scared while at Rush, because I could tell they knew what they were doing,” Richards says.
To treat her aneurysm, Lopes made a small incision in Richards’ leg and threaded a catheter through the blood vessels to her brain. Using the catheter, he then placed small wire coils inside the aneurysm to seal it off, thereby preventing a rupture that would flood the brain with blood.
“To seal Bettina’s aneurysm, we used a coil that we helped pioneer — one with a unique shape and a coating that allows us to treat large aneurysms without open surgery,” Lopes says. “And it offers a more durable result.”
Just days after the procedure, Richards was at home. And just seven weeks later, she completed the triathlon — that’s a combined distance of more than 50 kilometers of swimming, running and biking — and achieved her best time ever at age 40. For those who know her, this accomplishment comes as no surprise. As the founder and owner of the independent record label Thrill Jockey, Richards has a reputation for pushing the envelope. And as Richards learned, when it comes to your own health, sometimes you have to go that extra mile.
“Before my aneurysm, I ran by Rush almost every morning and had no idea they had such an impressive program,” says Richards.
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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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