Lou. surgeon live tweets brain aneurysm surgery


by Michelle Arnold


Posted on August 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 1 at 6:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- In March of 2009, WHAS11's Chuck Olmstead died after an aneurysm ruptured in his brain.

When detected early, aneurysms can be treated. Norton neurosurgeons saved a woman's life and tweeted the procedure live for the public to follow, Thursday.

A former nurse is now a patient.

“I became confused. I wasn't able to concentrate. I was having headaches. From April to May it just kept getting worse,” patient Kimberly Underhill, said.

A year and a half ago doctors discovered a large aneurysm in 43-year-old Kimberly Underhill's brain before it ruptured. Left untreated, it could be fatal.

The fix? A tiny pipeline embolization device made of braided mesh.

“It's a flow diverting stint like device to kind of divert flow past the neck of the aneurysm and that allows the aneurysm over a period of two to six months to clot off and completely go away,” neurosurgeon Dr. Shervin Dashti, said.

This pipeline will not just treat the aneurysm, it cures it, eventually restoring natural blood circulation.  It’s the first and only FDA approved device of its kind.

“It's small because the vessels in the brain are small and it has to conform to the brains in the vessel. As you can see it's very flexible, it's very flexible,” Dr. Dashti, said.

Dr. Dashti and his team have performed more than 70 of these surgeries, the most in this region. They tweeted to let the public know more about this state of the art procedure and aneurysms in general.

“The purpose of the tweeting was really for public education to get the awareness out there,” Dr. Dashti, said.

Procedures of this kind take approximately one hour and Dr. Dashti does not tweet and perform the surgery at the same time.

“We are going to explain as we go along and people are going to tweet so we are not going to be involved in the tweeting itself,” Dr. Dashti, said.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m.,  the Norton team live tweeted pictures, videos, and by the minute details of the surgery, showing the doctors inserting the pipeline into the leg artery and threading it through the arteries of the brain via catheter. The live tweet marked history and the surgery saved another life.