Being the Vice President of Marketing for Avera Health, Daryl Thuringer is no stranger to the Avera Medical Minute. However he never thought he'd be the subject of one.
A few weeks ago, Daryl started having dizzy spells and even had a few small seizures. After a trip to his doctor, Daryl was sent to the cardiologist to get his heart checked.
"Never would I have dreamed that the seizures I was having would have been tied to my heart." Said Thuringer.
Turns out his ticker was the culprit. Daryl has what's called a Patent Foramen Ovale, or PFO for short, which is basically a hole inside his heart that never closed when he was a baby. PFO's are not always a medical concern but Daryl is lucky doctors caught it early.
"If you form a clot for example or have some debris or plaque that breaks off from somewhere else that can go across and rather than be filtered out by the lung it would go directly across into the main circulation and then the typical place it would go is to the brain and can cause a stroke." Said Dr. J. Michael Bacharach with the North Central Heart Institute.
Dr. Bacharach is the surgeon repairing Daryl's PFO. Patching a hole in someone's heart seems like a serious invasive procedure, but Daryl is actually awake while Dr. Bacharach operates.
"Not so many years ago the only option was to do open heart surgery to repair these and we'd have to put a stitch or patch and sew them shut. Nowadays we do a trans-catheter repair which is a little plastic tube that goes up through the veins in the leg." Said Dr. Bacharach.
In one catheter Dr. Bacharach guides a small umbrella like patch, that once inside the heart, will unfold on either side of the hole, closing it off. In the other catheter is an echocardiogram which gives Dr. Bacharach an ultrasound image from inside Daryl's heart.
"We can actually put it up very closely to the defect in the heart so we get much better visualization of what we need to do and it makes the procedure much easier." Said Dr. Bacharach.
In about 15 minutes, Dr. Bacharach has mapped out the hole and the patch is in place. After a quick air bubble test, there are no leaks and Daryl's PFO is effectively plugged. For Daryl the change is felt immediately.
"Every heart beat feels a little bit different, I suppose it's normal now, but it's a new normal for me, I feel like I have a little bit more energy now that I'm not circulating blood without oxygen in it, that helps too!" Said Thuringer.
Daryl's surgery has completely changed his perspective on the hospital and staff he helps represent, as he's now been the one on the operating table. Daryl was in the hospital for just one day, which was probably a good thing because the second he was out the door, he was on his way to Brookings.
"You're in the catheter lab one day and cheering for the Jacks the next day! I mean it is an amazing feat." Said Thuringer.
And thanks to Dr. Bacharach, from now on Daryl can cheer for his Jackrabbits, whole heartedly.
Daryl is taking a few heart medications to make sure he doesn't form any blood clots. But eventually the patch will become a part of the heart muscle and it'll be as if there never was a hole to begin with.
For more information about PFO's and other trans-catheter procedures just call 877-AT-AVERA.