Miraculous discovery: At Essentia Health-Fargo for a heart attack, woman is also treated for brain aneurysm

November 28, 2022  By:

Emergency Sign

When Laura Kaduck of Fergus Falls had a heart attack last November, she could have never imagined her doctors would make yet another life-threatening diagnosis.

However, after transferring to Essentia Health in Fargo due to lack of beds at her local hospital, it was determined through an MRI that Laura also had an unruptured aneurysm in her brain.

A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. Left untreated, a brain aneurysm may rupture or burst, causing a severe and potentially fatal brain bleed.

Laura KaduckSurprised by her ordeal, Laura recalled, “This was a total shock to me. I’m in the ICU, and one of the doctors who comes in introduces himself to me as a neurologist. I thought aloud, ‘What? I thought I had a problem with my heart?’ ”

 “We found an aneurysm,” Dr. Kiron Thomas, an interventional neurologist at Essentia, told Laura. “You have some time, but this is something that needs to be taken care of.”

It was determined that Laura had a wide-neck aneurysm, which is among the most difficult types of aneurysms to treat. When the neck of the aneurysm is wide, materials traditionally used to pack aneurysms to prevent a rupture – like coils or stents – are more likely to fall back out into the artery.

Dr. Thomas then told Laura about an innovative device that could help — the Woven EndoBridge (WEB) system. Having received FDA approval in 2019, this new device is more effective in treating wide-neck aneurysms. Essentia Health is the only hospital in the region that uses it.

Laura says that Dr. Thomas explained the WEB device incredibly well, even taking the time to draw a diagram showing how the expanding mesh ball would be inserted within the aneurysm and how its technology would securely bridge the aneurysm neck. He further explained that this would close the aneurysm from inside, sealing off the aneurysm from blood flow and preventing a fatal rupture.

Laura said that “she was all in” on going through with this procedure, especially when she learned it would be minimally invasive and would require less recovery time.

Unlike other procedures to treat wide-neck aneurysms, the WEB device does not require a surgeon to cut open the skull. Instead, the WEB device is delivered to the aneurysm by navigating a catheter from a blood vessel in the groin or wrist all the way to the brain.

Laura’s procedure took place in January, lasting only a few hours. Her recovery was quick, and she returned to her job as the manager of a McDonald’s after less than a week. She said she would recommend the WEB device to anyone in her same situation.

Laura considers finding her aneurysm “a miracle.”

 “I’m so grateful to Essentia for the care I received,” she said. “They were so thorough and meticulous when I came in. If it weren’t for those doctors and nurses, I would still be walking around with a ticking time bomb in my head.”

 “COVID was hard for me, and a scary time for everyone,” Laura added, further detailing her entire experience at Essentia. “Even though they were so overwhelmed with COVID patients at that time, I felt incredibly important. I felt that I received the best care possible, even with everything going on.

 “I came in with heart issues, and they found something separate that needed to be addressed. That shows the level of care Essentia provides.”

More information

In the United States, an estimated 6.5 million – or one in 50 – people have an unruptured brain aneurysm. The risk of an aneurysm developing and rupturing varies between individuals, but smoking and high blood pressure are major risk factors.

While treatment for aneurysms can vary, a surgeon will usually only operate on brain aneurysms if there is a high risk of rupture.

The WEB device is important because having another option that providers can use to treat life-threatening aneurysms that are particularly challenging is incredibly beneficial for patient outcomes.

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