Case Study: Mike Carruthers

Mike was rushed into Watford’s emergency department after his blood pressure plummeted and he started to lose consciousness. His story illustrates the importance of having the right equipment and the right team in the right place at the right time, and how the new Interventional Radiology super scanner could help save even more lives like his.

Mike Carruthers shares his story

‘It all happened one weekend a couple of years ago. On the Saturday, I’d been suffering from a stomach bug, so has taken myself off to bed. I felt a bit sick, so I went to the bathroom, but woke up some time later, on the bedroom floor. I’d passed out! My wife, who is a GP, took my blood pressure which looked a bit low, and she got me to drink plenty of water. We both thought that I was probably got a bit dehydrated from the bug. But every time I moved I’d get dizzy or pass out. It was all pretty frightening. My wife rang 111 who eventually prioritised my call. The ambulance arrived about 11 o’clock in the evening. The team were absolutely fantastic. They did all the checks and blue-lighted me from St Albans where I live, to Watford.

By the time I got to Watford my blood pressure had dropped even further, so they took me straight to the Resuscitation ward [where the sickest patients are taken] in the Emergency Department, where everyone rushed around me. I had blood tests, ECGs, chest x-rays and ultrasounds. There wasn’t really a definitive answer to my problem initially. But quite early the next morning (Monday) they took me off for a CT scan, and results showed that I’d got a small aneurysm in the abdomen, and I’d lost a lot of blood.

Now, at least they knew what the problem was, so I met with several doctors throughout the night, and Mr Bhatti, the Surgical Consultant talked me through the option to have surgery but that was made difficult because of where the aneurysm was; it could be potentially fatal. They also considered Interventional Radiology, but they thought I’d have to go to the Royal Free because, at the time, they didn’t think that their Interventional Radiologist was available.

A few hours later, Dr Zamir came in and introduced himself, said that he was available and he felt he could help me. When I said, “Do you know how long it will be before you can slot me in” he said “I’ll try and get you in in the next 10 minutes” it was a bit of a shock! So they took me off to the Radiology department and introduced me to all the doctors. The surgical team was there because they said that if the Interventional Radiologist was unsuccessful then they’d need to take me to surgery. The anaesthetists were there in case they needed to anaesthetise me for surgery. And, of course, the radiologists were there –a room full of people – and all were fantastic!

They inserted a wire up from the artery in my leg. Dr Zamir had said that he had a map of how he intended to get to the problem, presumably a map of my arteries. So they ran a series of x-rays to guide the wire until they got through to where the bleeding aneurysm was. The idea was that they were going to use microcoils to block the aneurysm. I was awake all the way through. It was uncomfortable but the doctors and nurses really looked after me.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t get a coil in because of the angle. Dr Zamir said that perhaps they could use some sort of glue to basically seal up the hole. The only problem was that they didn’t have any. However, the team spoke to a representative from the drug company that made the glue and they delivered it to the hospital meaning that Dr Zamir could carry on. They glued my broken artery and that fixed the problem! I was on the operating table all that time. It was all very strange, but so much better than the alternative that would have been a very major operation. They managed to do all this through a tiny hole in my leg and saved me the recovery of an operation on top of losing all the blood that I’d lost in the first place.

It doesn’t really occur to you at the time how dangerous the situation is. It doesn’t necessarily feel life-threatening, but when you look at it afterward, it was a bit surreal. I’m very grateful to the doctors and nurses, who were incredible. I was in hospital for about three days. It took about a month of recuperation before I was back to normal again. I count myself as extremely fortunate for the skills of the doctors and nurses who were incredible. They showed so much determination to fix me. Together they saved my life.Mike Carruthers

Dr Muhammad Zamir, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology Consultant, who leads the Interventional Radiology team, added:

Michael suffered from a bleeding aneurysm related to the pancreatoduodenal artery which is a small artery providing blood to the pancreas. There were logistical delays with Michael’s treatment related to the current Interventional Radiology room and facilities to anaesthetise a patient. The new Interventional Radiology room will allow for these types of cases to be undertaken out-of-hours without having to transfer the patient to another hospital. Furthermore, the new scanner will provide even more detailed and high-resolution imaging with advanced software allowing for rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients.

If Mike’s story has inspired you to make a donation, please click the donate button below and select Interventional radiology from the drop down menu. Thank you for your support!

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