Published on Friday, October 14, 2016
According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (www.bafound.org), an estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or 1 in 50 people. 10-15% of patients diagnosed with a brain aneurysm will harbor more than one aneurysm.
Accurate early diagnosis is critical.
An individual who has two or more relatives (e.g. mother, father,
brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousins) with a brain aneurysm
should contact a specialist and be screened for familial aneurysms.
Brenda Mlasko lives in West Branch, Michigan – and her mother and sister live nearby in the same town. Brenda also
lives with the knowledge that her mother, sister and brother have all had brain aneursyms.
Brenda herself has had two occurrences. The first diagnosis was made in 2005, followed
by surgery performed out-of- state. Since she was diagnosed in 2005, she has been tested with angiograms and magnetic resonance angiograms (MRA) yearly or every two years to make sure she has remained clear of any “de novo” (new) aneurysms.
But in the Spring of 2016, Brenda started getting headaches
and thought they were due to allergies. She started on a course of allergy medication, but after
a couple of months, decided it wasn’t helping. “This is not right,” Brenda recalls thinking. “I’m not a headache person.”
So, she contacted her doctor, who ordered a “brain check” consisting of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an MRA and then a computed tomography angiography (CTA). The tests revealed that Brenda had three new (“de novo”) aneursyms – two were small and a larger one
-- “a sacular right internal carotid artery terminus aneurysm,” according to her McLaren Bay Region neurosurgeon, Sunil Manjila, MD, Bay Neurosurgery Associates in Bay City, MI.
A course of action was developed by Dr. Manjila with Brenda and her family. “I really like him,” Brenda said of Dr.
Manjila. “He was very confident, right off the bat. He never said he couldn’t do it. Instead, he said ‘We can take care of that.’” On August 11, 2016, Dr. Manjila performed surgery on Brenda at McLaren Bay Region. He clipped the large aneurysm successfully.
She still has the small ones, which will be monitored. He also repaired the cosmetically disfiguring indentation that was left in her forehead from the 2005 surgery. (The photo included with this article was taken pre-surgery. She was discharged on the second day following neurosurgery.)
Brenda’s healthcare journey is still unfolding
and she has placed her trust in the practitioners at McLaren Bay Region. It’s also vitally important to her that families hear her message: “If you have a history of brain aneurysms in your family, contact a neurosurgeon and get tested. Don’t stop with just one test –
because it doesn’t mean you’re going to be clear for life.”
Rather, Brenda emphasizes that getting a specialist who will track you and your family
members with regular testing is a critical decision that can save lives.
Brenda is very grateful to Dr. Manjila and all the staff at McLaren Bay Region who
are members of her treatment team. “Everything was wonderful, from pre-surgery, to the time I was in Intensive Care
– even my follow-up with Dr. Manjila’s office. All have been very caring.”