New Bedside Procedure Helps High Risk Brain Injury Patients

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With more serious brain injuries, it isn’t uncommon to require brain surgery to prevent any further damage. You would assume this would require an operating room, but doctors have found a way to accommodate patients who would be at too high of a risk to perform open surgery, like Tom Barber.

As Your News Now Austin reports, Barber slipped on ice in March, suffering a brain injury and soon dealing with terrible headaches, nausea, and vomiting. He was also suffering from the less visible bleeding in his brain. Doctors opted to wait and see if the bleeding would subside, but within a few weeks it was clear Tom was going to need intervention.

The blood had began to spread and creating more pressure on the brain. This would normally call for surgery, but Barber had a heart condition and was on blood thinners, making open cranial surgery a risky proposition. Dr. Julie Pilitsis offered another option.

“It’s something new,” Pilitsis said. “We can take out this blood at the bedside rather than going to the operating room.”
The procedure is called a bedside burr-hole subdural drainage, and frighteningly it is done without anesthesia while the patient is awake. It may sound like a nightmare, but it lessens the risk for patients like Tom. Within a day, he was speaking more clearly and his symptoms were diminishing.

“His symptoms of right sided weakness were diminishing. I was ecstatic because I had not seen this man since March 9,” his wife said. “I think he’s doing remarkable.”

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