Surgeons Save 13-Year-Old Girl Who Suffered a Ruptured Brain Aneurysm
Contact: Michelle Pinto
NEW HYDE PARK, NY
Teenager Miele Alexander of Woodhaven is alive today—thanks to her mother making the right decision in rushing her to the hospital when she complained of severe head pain and a team of surgeons acting quickly to diagnose and treat a ruptured aneurysm.
“If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be here,’’ the 13-year-old said this week when she came back to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park with her family to meet the press alongside her doctors, Mark Mittler, MD, and David Chalif, MD.
Miele was happily packing on June 9 for her senior trip when about 11 p.m. she suddenly collapsed from the pain of an agonizing headache. After assessing the situation, her mother, Lorrie Mckie, rushed Miele to the emergency department at Cohen.
During a press conference Tuesday at the hospital, Miele and her mom shared their stories and listened intently as the two surgeons who saved her life explained the complicated process of diagnosing a life-threatening brain aneurysm, not a common condition for a teenager.
According to Dr. Chalif, a neurosurgeon at North Shore University Hospital who specializes in brain aneurysms, a ruptured brain aneurysm in one so young is a very rare occurrence.
“The usual age of a patient experiencing an aneurysm of this type is between 55-60,” he said. “I’ve seen this in young people maybe three or four times in my entire career. From the bottom of my heart if someone asked me why I became a doctor it’s because of this. This is a story that really touched me as a doctor.”
Admitting that she remembers very little after telling her mother that “something is happening inside my head,” Miele recalled that the pain was so intense that she lost all control of her body. In fact, once she arrived at the hospital, she was closely monitored and continued to experience excruciating headaches, weakness and nausea.
Dr. Mittler, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Cohen, ordered a CT Head and CT Angiogram that proved his suspicion—a ruptured brain aneurysm, a rare occurrence in one so young. A brain aneurysm, a weak area in a blood-vessel wall of the brain that causes the vessel to bulge, could lead to a small amount of blood in the brain, which is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This was the cause of Miele’s headache.
The test result led to Miele being rushed to surgery, where Dr. Mittler inserted a draining tube into a ventricle in the brain to relieve the pressure caused by the buildup of excess fluid.
Following that procedure, Miele was transferred to North Shore University Hospital, where a cerebral angiogram on June 11 helped further clarify the location of the aneurysm. Due to its location and size, it was determined that Miele’s aneurysm would best be treated by surgical clipping. In this procedure, a craniotomy is performed through a small opening in the skull and the neurosurgeon places a clip around its base, cutting the blood flow to the aneurysm and allowing proper flow through normal vessels. The surgery was performed that day by Dr. Chalif, and Dr. Mittler.
A cerebral angiogram the next day revealed that the aneurysm was no longer present. After a 10-day ordeal, Miele was discharged on June 21, just in time to enjoy her summer vacation.
To watch the video about Miele’s extraordinary experience, please visit our Video Library and scroll down to Something Just Happened in My Head.