This drove you to work with a pioneering technique to reach those deep aneurisms – could you please talk us through it.
To reach giant blood vessels that you can’t easily get to, one of the solutions we utilized was something called cardiac standstill. This is when a patient is put to sleep, catheters are put into the arteries and veins, and a heart-and-lung machine takes over the circulation of the body.
Then you start to cool the patient down. The heart stops beating when the body temperature is around 30 degrees centigrade, so at that point the heart-and-lung machine takes over to circulate the blood through the body. When the patient gets to the target temperature – 14 or 15 degrees centigrade – you can actually turn off the machine and drain blood out of the body.
Now you’ve got this big, distended sack under high pressure that will suddenly be deflated. This gives you room to work so that you can fix these truly incurable lesions that we just had no other options for. Even with this technique there is significant risk to the patient, but it was so much better than the natural course of the disease.
I’ve done this so many times, but each time was absolutely incredible. To see a patient without any brain waves, pulse or respiration – by all accounts dead except for the fact that they’re cold and can be revived.