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WATE-TV: Technician who works with stroke patients becomes one himself

Posted on May 8, 2018 in News

WATE-TV: Technician who works with stroke patients becomes one himself

May 7, 2018

Adam Hill gets the tools in place for the next life-saving surgery in the interventional radiology lab at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. 

As lead tech, Hill knows this place like the back of his hand. He never dreamed he’d be a patient receiving treatment here, suffering from a ruptured aneurysm, like so many patients he’s helped treat.

Hill was at home with his wife and kids when the symptoms set in.

“A pop or flutter somewhere, I felt, in this area,” he said, pointing to his forehead. “Before I could think, man, that’s strange, the pain set in. I laid down and in just misery. Laid there for a few hours thinking, ‘This is a really bad migraine.'”

Quickly, he knew it was something else, and was rushed to the emergency room at Fort Sanders where his boss, Dr. Keith Woodward, was waiting.

Dr. Woodward explained what caused Hill’s ruptured aneurysm. Like all aneurysms, it’s a genetic defect in his arteries.

“Variations in anatomy lead to aneurysms, ” Dr. Woodward pointed out on a scan. “What’s missing on this picture is another artery right here. He was born without that artery.”

Because Hill lacked an artery, another one had to work twice as hard, and simply wore out. Surgery to repair the aneurysm, again in the very room where Hill works every day, took only 30 minutes.

“Once I’ve navigated that catheter from the groin all the way up into the aneurysm, then we place very small platinum strings called coils to seal off the aneurysm from the inside,” said Dr. Woodward.

Dr. Woodward has performed about a thousand of these procedures, but never anything like this.

“I would say that Adam is the only person I’ve known well and had a ruptured aneurysm, and so it was very challenging for me personally to get through the case,” Dr. Woodward recalled.

“It was bad when I went through it, yes, but looking back on it, I’m so thankful that I went through it because I can relate to my patients,” said Hill.

In fact, the day after Hill came back to work, a woman was rushed in with the same type of aneurysm in the same place. Dr. Woodward asked if Hill would feel better not working on the case. He said “absolutely not.” He was able to help that patient understand what was happening in a way he’d never been able to before.