SEATTLE -- A team of doctors with UW Medicine recently completed a rare brain surgery that helped a woman suffering from devastating headaches and potential blindness. The procedure can only be done at a few hospitals in the country, and Harborview Medical Center is the only hospital on the west coast with a team able to pull it off.
Michelle Catchot was the patient. The 23-year-old from Sacramento flew in because she was in a desperate. Her headaches and vision problems became too much to handle.
“My headaches were horrible. I had to have my eyes covered. I was laying down in a dark room,” Catchot said. “I had a terrible whooshing sound in my ears, double vision, so I could hardly move around.”
Michelle’s brain had too much fluid in it, causing high pressure that led to her headaches and eyesight issues.
Dr. Michael Levitt is with a team of doctors from UW Medicine Neuroscienes that placed a stent into a vein in her brain which relieved the pressure and allowed the fluid to flow freely.
“So if you think of a hose that is squeezed down -- if you open the hose from the inside, that fluid will flow much more quickly and freely,” Levitt said. “There’s only a handful of centers across the country that can really promote or accomplish this procedure.”
Four months after her surgery, the doctors were successful.
“I feel great,” Catchot said. “I don’t have any of the symptoms that I had before and I am just so grateful, and have some positivity.”
Michelle now hopes that she’ll soon be able to get back to the things she loves -- winemaking and horseback riding. She still is going to physical therapy twice a week, but doctors expect her to make a full recovery.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen when I was going through the worst of it and to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come is really a miracle,” Catchot added with a smile.