A Journey Through Pseudotumor Cerebri

Karen McNew McGuire's picture
By Karen McNew McGuire on January 24, 2019

Mary Ray is at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for her final stent procedure to treat a condition known as pseudotumor cerebri.

“This is a condition where there is too much CSF, cerebrospinal fluid, around the brain, which causes pressure that results in headaches and blurry vision,” explained Andrew Nicholson, M.D., a Carilion Clinic endovascular interventional neuro radiologist. “If left untreated, it can result in blindness.”
 
I was tired all the time,” said Mary Ray. “I had debilitating headaches to the point that I couldn’t concentrate.”
 
She was unable to continue the hobby she and her husband, Darrell, share, restoring cars and taking them to shows, and she missed being able to spend quality time with her family.
 
“When they did the angiogram test it showed that I had narrowing of the veins and that is when he said 'you know I think I can help you',” recounted Mary.
 
“It was a year of thinking that I was not going to get better,” said Mary. “I had been to several other hospital systems, I had gone to numerous doctors everywhere and no one could help me.”
 
But, Dr. Nicholson knew this minimally invasive, endovascular approach called veinous stenting, might provide the relief she was looking for.
 
The procedure opens up the narrow part of the blood vessels that are causing the increased fluid pressure on the brain.
 
“I started to feel better,” said Mary. “The whooshing sound in my ears went away. It felt like a washing machine in my ears the whole time and that kind of went away.”
 
“It is variable - some people will have headache relief very quickly, some people will take a couple of months,” noted Dr. Nicholson.
 
“The main goal of the procedure is to preserve vision - if this is left alone for too long, patients will lose their vision.”
 
“The stenting procedure is what ultimately made me better,” said Mary. “Three months and here I am, driving, back to work full time, I’m in a new position, I’ve gotten a promotion - life is amazing.”
 
“It made a big difference to know that he really cared,” she added happily.