When a 13-year-old boy came in to see Dr. Aaron Dumont complaining of a horrible headache, the diagnosis was something the prominent neurosurgeon never expected.
“It turns out he had two very large brain aneurysms,” Dumont says. “Not only are brain aneurysms not common in someone that young – they’re typically seen in people more in their 40s, 50s and 60s – it was extremely uncommon to see two, especially so large.
Appearing much like “a balloon sticking out of a blood vessel,” Dumont explains that aneurysms present a serious health risk. “It they burst, it can be fatal. These ones measured about one-and-a-half inches. That may not sound very big, but for the brain it certainly is.”
Dumont treated each aneurysm separately.
“For the first one, we went up through the groin and into the brain and inserted these metal coils,” he explains. “The coils are kind of like a Slinky that goes inside the aneurysm and seals it off, preventing it from bleeding. Eventually, it shrunk down.”
With the first procedure a success, Dumont moved to tackling the second aneurysm.
“The second one was much more complex,” he says. “There was just no good way to go about it, so I decided to block the blood flow to the vessel with the aneurysm. I then took an artery from his arm and sewed it from his neck to his head, creating a bypass.”
The second operation was also a success and the boy has since gone on to graduate from high school. Dumont says he enjoys a clean bill of health and comes back only for annual follow-ups.
In addition to performing surgeries, Dumont is also active on the research side of his discipline at Tulane University, where he’s working both in the lab and in clinical trials to try and understand why aneurysms form and why they burst.
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