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Surgeons at Barts Health perform world’s first aneurysm surgery while patient still awake

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 September 2020

Surgeon Paul Bhogal led the operation. Picture: Barts Health NHS Trust

Surgeon Paul Bhogal led the operation. Picture: Barts Health NHS Trust

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Surgeons have performed the world’s first successful brain aneurysm surgery while a patient was still awake using a “tiny, cage-like” gadget.

Celine Dawes said she could fee a tingle at the front of her head during the op but beat the nerves by thinking how her life was being saved. Picture: Steve DawesCeline Dawes said she could fee a tingle at the front of her head during the op but beat the nerves by thinking how her life was being saved. Picture: Steve Dawes

Celine Dawes was rushed to A&E at The Royal London Hospital run by Barts Health NHS Trust after suffering from a headache and stiff neck for 72 hours.

Celine said: “The surgeon was fantastic. We are so grateful to Barts Health and all the team.”

The 64-year-old from Chingford was referred to the neurosurgical team with a suspected ruptured brain aneurysm after her arrival at the hospital in Whitechapel.

An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall.

A WEB device is a tiny, cage-like gadget that is implanted into aneurysms to stop blood flowing into them and preventing them from rupturing. Picture: Barts Health NHS TrustA WEB device is a tiny, cage-like gadget that is implanted into aneurysms to stop blood flowing into them and preventing them from rupturing. Picture: Barts Health NHS Trust

This can lead to a subarachnoid haemorrhage where bleeding caused by the ruptured aneurysm can cause extensive brain damage, vomiting, severe headaches and even death.

Further investigation showed Celine would need surgery using a Woven EndoBridge (WEB) device to stop the aneurysm rupturing again.

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The device is a tiny, super-soft, cage-like gadget implanted into aneurysms to stop blood flowing into it and preventing the aneurysm from rupturing.

Usually the procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic in order to stop the patient moving during the operation.

However, Celine was at high risk of cardiac and pulmonary complications from the general anaesthetic.

There were further concerns she would need help breathing after the op and would, in the worst-case scenario, require a long period of ventilation on the intensive care unit.

So medics took the decision to use local anaesthetic. The procedure took about 35 minutes. Celine was sent home a week later.

Although not painful, Celine noted she felt “little tingles” in the front of her head and that although she was frightened to begin with, she kept in mind that the surgeon was going to save her life.

Dr Paul Bhogal, who operated on Celine, said: “Ruptured aneurysms are often smaller than 5mm and even a 1mm error can result in catastrophe.

“Performing this treatment was stressful, but I had an excellent team around me and Celine was an exceptional patient who stayed perfectly still during the procedure.”


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