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    Story of an Incredible Health Scare -
    Acute Ischemic Stroke

    Nancy Zackler's Story

    The night of June 18, 2012, was a particularly special evening for Nancy Zackler and her husband, as they were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. In celebration they went to the Rrazz Room in San Francisco, where they enjoyed a glass of wine and listened to the Tommy Igoe Big Band. She was enjoying her evening when, suddenly, she started to experience an overwhelming sense of weakness, ringing in her ears, and an inability to speak. This was followed by a sudden right facial droop, and slurred speech. Before she knew it, she was being escorted out of the club by paramedics and admitted to the Emergency Room at CPMC Pacific Campus.

    At the hospital, Nancy underwent a CT angiogram, an imaging test used to look at the blood vessels in the brain. During a CT angiogram, dye is injected into the carotid and vertebral arteries simultaneously while, at the same time, fluoroscopic (X-ray) imaging of the head also takes place. This test helps physicians see the brain’s blood vessels and the blood flowing through them. The angiogram allowed CPMC stroke neurologists to identify a clot in Nancy’s basilar artery. This meant that she was suffering from an acute ischemic stroke of the basilar artery. An ischemic stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to an area of the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. About 80% of all strokes are ischemic stroke.

    Nancy was transferred to the CPMC Davies Campus for care and treatment by Dr. Joey English, Director of Neurointerventional Services at CPMC. Upon her arrival, she was immediately taken to the Interventional Radiology Suite by Dr. English, where a secondary CT angiogram was performed. Once Dr. English confirmed the blood clot in the basilar artery he decided that, in order to avert any sort of catastrophe for Nancy, it had to be removed. Upon her family’s consent, Dr. English went ahead and surgically removed the clot. He did so by utilizing a Solitaire™ stent retriever device to recanalize the artery. During the procedure, Dr. English used a catheter to guide a small stent from the area of the groin to the brain. The stent, made of platinum-titanium mesh, was guided into Nancy’s basilar artery, the location of the blood clot. The stent then expanded the interior walls of the artery, which allowed blood to get to her brain immediately, to prevent as much brain damage as possible. The clot then seeped into the mesh of the stent and, after five minutes, the stent and clot were both removed by Dr. English.

    Following surgery, Nancy awoke in the ICU at 2am virtually symptom free, with no physical effects or mental deficits from her aneurysm. She was discharged from the hospital on June 20th, just a day and a half after her incredible health scare. Today, Nancy is feeling thankful for Dr. English’s quick and skillful work that ultimately saved her life. As Nancy puts it, “Dr. English is masterful at his art. He’s my angel!” However, despite the immediate results of her surgery, it took some time for Nancy to feel like herself again. “Your body goes through a lot, and [you are] traumatized both physically and mentally [during these sorts of experiences].” A month and half after surgery, Nancy is finally back to feeling 100%.