How emergency surgery – through the wrist – saved one stroke patient’s life

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The last thing Kerri Squires remembers is checking herself in to the Emergency Room. She had just dropped her children off at school and couldn’t handle the intense pain in her head any longer.

“It felt like someone was hitting me in the head with a baseball bat every time I took a step,” Squires said.

Two days earlier, she was at an amusement park with her family when she says she felt something click.

“All of the sudden, my head was pounding and I couldn’t see straight. I was violently sick the entire two-hour ride home,” she said. “But when we got home, I snapped right into mommy mode, so everyone thought I just had a really bad migraine.”

“The sudden, severe headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and the seizure Kerri had in the ER waiting room, they’re all tell-tale signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm,” said Dr. Paul Saphier, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) who treated Squiares at Overlook Medical Center.

Scans confirmed an aneurysm ruptured in the right side of Kerri’s brain. She was rushed into emergency surgery.

Rather than perform a traditional open craniotomy – which requires opening the skull – or traditional endovascular neurosurgery, whereby neurosurgeons navigate to the brain typically through the main artery in the upper thigh, Dr. Saphier took an even more advanced endovascular approach, going through the radial artery in Squires’s wrist to place 11 coils in her brain and stop the bleed.

“Radial access is the ultimate in minimally invasive endovascular neurosurgery, carrying less risk of bleeding and improving patient comfort,” Dr. Saphier said.

Dubbed the “miracle child” by her doctors, Squires walked out of the ICU and went straight to rehab. Two months after the surgery, she said it’s as if the brain aneurysm never happened.

While radial access is widespread in the cardiology community for stenting and catheterization, it’s not commonly used in neurosurgery. Dr. Saphier is on a mission to change that by spearheading a physician-led study to formally examine its advantages and bring what he believes in many cases is the best treatment available to more patients.

Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) is New Jersey’s largest neurosurgical practice and is a partner of Altair Health. For more information, visit ANSdocs.com.