Better hope your Doctor doesn't retire. Brain surgery gone bad.

Talk about passing the buck. :dubious: Doctor retires and now this girl is S.O.L?

Experimental studies are well documented and usually published in journals. You’d think any competent neurosurgeon could read the medical journal articles on this device. Or even contact the manufacturer and get their literature. Heck, there had to be more than one Doctor using this experimental device.

What gets me :confused: is a shunt is just a piece of tubing to drain fluids. This one apparently has valves to open and close it. I hope somebody decides to step up and figure this out.

I recall watching Little People Big World on TLC. The couple’s dwarf child had a shunt in his brain since he was a infant. It went bad and that normally active kid went down fast. I recall they rushed him to the hospital for an operation and the shunt was replaced. He was back kicking his soccer ball in a week or two. That was one of their better episodes.

I think his dad said this was the teenagers third shunt? He said a lot of dwarfs need them.

I’m a bit confused - I realize this is brain surgery, but if a shunt is more or less just a drainage device, what’s the issue that’s preventing someone from removing it and replacing it with a normal design?

Is it just the “I didn’t cause this, so I’m not touching it!” mentality?

I’m guessing malpractice concerns. No one wants to touch a “experimental device”. Even though it’s been working correctly in the girl’s brain for 5 years.

So far google search on the girls name only shows 3 hits for news. I hope CNN picks up the story. Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon. He could certainly find somebody to consult on the case. Heck, he might even consult on the case himself.

Why not just add another and leave the one that’s already there in place? Presumably it drains at a certain pressure so having two isn’t a big deal?

As someone who works in medical research at a hospital, I’m pretty dubious about this. You’re supposed to keep records on research for probably 7-10 years (depends on where you live). Did he take all his records when he left? There’s no notes in her medical records about what valve it was? I’d think at least the operative report would specify what it was. No one else in the US has ever implanted this in anyone?

I think you’re probably right. Surgeons rarely want to redo other surgeon’s work even when they are not experimental. Saying they are unaware of how to do the procedure is a great out.

Even with an op report, if they haven’t done the procedure, they probably don’t want to take on the liability of performing it.

I wondered about the story too. I checked and is the web site for KASW. UHF channel 49 and it is the CW-affiliated television station in Phoenix, Arizona.
Since this is a local Phoenix story, it should be legit. I’m just surprised the big news sites aren’t on this story too.

I’m a little skeptical about the statement, “So far, no doctors in Arizona have been able to help Carissa because of the experimental nature of the shunt.” (My emphasis.) I’d have to see more evidence that every Arizona neurosurgeon has reviewed and rejected her case before I could work up any indignation. It’s a 5-year-old “experimental” shunt, for the love of Mike! That’s a relic in medical technology terms.

I think somebody’s trying to shunt over a few ratings points.

I don’t know anything about this case, but brain shunts are simple sounding things that in practice are anything but. This shunt is likely a V-P shunt, or ventriculoperitoneal shunt. It basically drains cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) from the brain down in to the abdominal cavity of the person. It’s usually used for people who are either producing too much CSF or aren’t able to drain it well enough. Either way, it accumulates and puts pressure on the brain causing intense headaches and can damage the brain. The shunt allows the excess fluid to drain out. It also opens up an avenue for infection into the brain, which is normally fairly well protected in health individuals. V-P shunt infections can be pretty terrible, complicated things. If this is infected, it could have inflammatory tissue all around, and it’s not just a simple matter to go in and pull it out. I’ll reserve judgement on the neurosurgeons because brain surgery in general is no cakewalk, and infected medical equipment (again, if that’s what this is), complicates things enormously.

So one sits there while this girl dies in agony. :dubious:

Great use of the Hippocratic Oath … I think I would risk it. Screw the insurance companies.

And if one of those white knights rides in to help, and this woman ends up brain-damaged and reliant on machines to live out some very reduced semblance of life, guess who’s getting their ass sued off, their reputation trashed, etc? Great choice.

They need to find a surgeon who’s implanted one of those experimental shunts before, see if he/she would be willing to risk working on this one.

I wouldn’t be amazed if the article stated that the neurosurgeons at the original hospital or even several hospitals in AZ were unable or unwilling to perform the surgery. It’s definitely a potentially risky and complicated procedure. I do find it unlikely that no neurosurgeon in the entire state will take on or is able to perform a revision on the stent, experimental or not. Since we have such limited information on the case, I think it’s a waste of perfectly good inflammatory rhetoric to get all RO on the Arizona medical professionals. Isn’t there a missing baby somewhere we can rant about instead?


Perhaps a happy ending? I know the lady is glad that they found someone willing to help.

Three weeks of intense head pain must seem like an eternity for her. Not to mention the cost.

We have a similar local case right now. A former pediatric patient needs the expertise of their former children’s hospital. Once a kid turns 21 they are screwed. They lose access to all the professionals that know their case.

There’s a fundrazr setup to help Carissa’s mom Daniella with the bills. She’s been off work three weeks already.

They moved her from one city to another? Damn, that’s some delicate ambulance ride.

That happened with my father. We had the option of taking him in the car, but I was really nervous about that. Car != ambulance. My mother was more than happy to pay the extra money.