Bypass Procedure Frees Beloved Patriarch of Frightening Strokes
At age 62, Ginutis Sipas, a retired mason, had a long history of cigarette smoking and high blood pressure. In early 2010, his family began to notice that he experienced episodes of confusion, an inability to speak, and weakness in his hands and feet.
By April 2010, as the episodes began to occur more frequently, Ginutis worried that he was developing Parkinson’s disease. One day he was driving to the dentist’s office when his legs began to shake and weakened. His right hand off the steering wheel. Unable to get out of the car, he missed his appointment. When he felt better, he turned around and drove straight home.
Several weeks later Ginutis fell down, pinning himself against his bedroom door. He was confused, his speech was slurred, and he couldn’t move his right arm. His family grew frightened by the changes in their beloved patriarch, a Lithuanian immigrant fluent in several languages.
Time for treatment
At the local hospital, Ginutis was diagnosed as having clogged carotid arteries (atherosclerosis). The carotid arteries, located on the sides of the neck, supply blood to the brain. With blood flow impeded, Ginutis had experienced transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) as well as a small ischemic stroke.
Doctors prescribed blood thinners, which helped reduce the frequency of the episodes but didn’t stop them. In fact, despite maximum medication, the frightening episodes continued.
Mount Sinai steps in
Ginutis turned to Mount Sinai for advice. Tests showed that blockages within his internal carotid arteries were impairing blood flow to both sides of his brain. Referred to Joshua Bederson, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and a specialist in cerebrovascular disease, Ginutis learned of his treatment options.
One of those options was a bypass procedure that involved taking an artery from the scalp and attaching it to an artery within the brain, thereby increasing blood flow to that side of the brain. Dr. Bederson, one of the few cerebrovascular surgeons in the United States actively performing this technique, recommended the surgery to reduce the risk of another stroke.
On June 10, 2010, Ginutis underwent surgery. During the procedure, the temporal artery was meticulously cut away from the surrounding scalp, leaving a miniscule amount of connective tissue around the artery to protect it.
A small window was opened in the skull to locate an appropriate recipient vessel. The vessel would have to be the right size match to the donor vessel, the correct orientation to permit a careful anastomosis (joining of the two blood vessels), and the right depth to permit enough length on the donor vessel to reach the recipient. Dr. Bederson carefully trimmed the donor vessel to precisely fit the recipient artery. The surgery was extremely complex and delicate, involving numerous procedures to maintain blood flow to the brain.
Upon awakening, Ginutis could not speak English, although he could speak in his native Lithuanian. In time, though, his ability to speak English returned.
Less than two weeks after surgery Ginutis had a follow-up visit. Although he still had problems related to his initial strokes, he was gradually resuming his prior activities and had stopped experiencing TIAs. His bypass pulse was strong. A follow-up CT angiogram confirmed excellent blood flow through the grafted vessel, re-establishing vital circulation to the brain.
Ginutis, at last, was on the road to recovery.
We can help
For more information on bypass techniques to restore brain circulation, please call us at 212-241-3457 to schedule an appointment. Our office is conveniently located on the Upper East Side of New York City.