If Lucille Bonfanti’s neurosurgeon followed what the medical community considers the current standard of care when she experienced a large, life-threatening brain bleed, she would have had only a 50-50 chance of survival. She would have had an even higher probability of permanently losing her ability to live independently. Instead, Lucille is living the life many retirees dream of with her husband, daughters and young granddaughters.
“When Lucille arrived at Overlook Hospital, our CAT scans revealed a massive bleed on the left side of her brain. It was so bad that she was essentially in a coma, unable to speak, understand others or move the right side of her body,” recalls Dr. Paul Saphier, a board-certified neurosurgeon and stroke specialist at Atlantic Neurosurgical Specialists (ANS).
Given the location of her hemorrhage and her age (68), Lucille wasn’t a candidate for an open craniotomy, which entails removing part of the skull. As such, conventional practice today would steer a neurosurgeon to concentrate on medical therapy – that is, controlling the underlying causes of the bleed, such as blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes.
“I can say with a great deal of certainty that if we had settled on medical therapy alone, Lucille would have been part of the 50 percent of people who don’t survive based on the sheer size of her hemorrhage,” Dr. Saphier adds. “We had to do better for Lu and her family.”
Dr. Saphier presented a new, minimally invasive treatment option to Lucille’s husband, Richard. He explained that using sophisticated imaging and Artemis technology, he could evacuate the brain bleed through very small incisions in the skull. With this approach, which Dr. Saphier coined S.E.E.I.N.G.TM (Surgical Endoscopic Evacuation of Intracranial Hemorrhage with Neuro-navigational Guidance), neurosurgeons can effectively treat the most dangerous brain hemorrhages without exposing patients to the risks of an open surgical procedure. Dr. Saphier and his colleagues at ANS have successfully used Artemis technology on approximately 100 patients since its approval by the FDA.
Lucille’s mother and father both passed away from strokes, and her family didn’t want to see her suffer the same fate. They agreed S.E.E.I.N.G. was the best option and gave the green light for the procedure.
“With only an inch-long incision, our advanced technology allowed me to pinpoint the problem area and clear out the hemorrhage – all while preserving healthy brain tissue,” Dr. Saphier explains.
Following the procedure, Lucille embarked on a slow, steady and sometimes trying journey to recovery, having suffered major trauma from the stroke. Starting with regaining the ability to hold her head up, her determination, faith and family guided her as she learned to communicate, eat, walk and perform day-to-day activities again.
“Today Lucille is completely neurologically intact,” says Dr. Saphier. “To see her now – as if nothing ever happened – is amazing.”
Lucille is now back to living her life in Garwood, NJ, and enjoying her favorite jobs: wife, mother and grandmother.
“While medical literature historically hasn’t provided evidence to support the benefit of neurosurgical intervention for patients with large brain bleeds, there was clearly a benefit for Lucille – and I believe it can benefit many, many others like her,” Dr. Saphier continues.
Separate from Lucille’s case, Dr. Saphier is the Lead Principal Investigator in New Jersey for a global clinical trial – coined the MIND (Minimally Invasive Neuro Evacuation Device) Trial – whose objective is to compare the efficacy of new Artemis technology with the current standard of care for removing large, historically lethal brain bleeds.
“With this trial, we’re challenging the commonly accepted practice that surgery is not beneficial for these patients,” says Dr. Saphier. “Our technology has evolved. Our approaches have evolved. As medical professionals, we, too, must evolve to move the needle and do better for our patients. These are people’s mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors … and they deserve the best care we can give them.”
For more information about this new minimally invasive treatment option for brain bleeds and to inquire if you, a loved one or a patient is a possible candidate for the MIND clinical trial, call 833-SEEING1 (833-733-4641).