Montana Woman Undergoes Awake Craniotomy to Remove Abnormal Clusters of Blood Vessels in Brain

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At the age of just 5, Kylee Macks experienced her first seizure. It was an event so startling that it alerted her and her family about an underlying health issue. As a healthy child, there were no indications prior to this first seizure, but after further examination through MRI, it was determined that she had clusters of abnormal blood vessels in her brain which could cause serious damage.

In 2019, Macks had a second seizure at the age of 25. Prior to its occurrence, she felt a sense of weakness in the left side of her arm and hand, and an occasional headache. The seizure left her with negatively affected motor skills and a fear that future seizures may impair her further. Following another MRI, St. Vincent Healthcare Neurologist, Dr. Arturo Echeverri recommended neurological surgery to remove the clusters from her brain.

Macks’ initial surgery was performed at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, where their team successfully removed two of the clusters but did not remove a few that were concerning, in that they may cause further neurological damage by removing.

SVH Kylee Macks Content Image 2The recovery following her surgery was difficult for Macks due to bleeding in her motor strip and other symptoms. She decided to meet with St. Vincent Healthcare Neurosurgeon, Dr. Louis Ross, to learn more about her options closer to home. Dr. Ross presented a favorable care plan and she chose to have her surgery and rehabilitation in Billings, rather than return to UCSF.

In October 2019, Dr. Ross performed a successful procedure known as an awake craniotomy for cavernoma to remove the more concerning clusters of abnormal blood vessels in her brain and the outcome was positive for Macks and her family.

“It was nerve-wracking knowing that I had to go through surgery again, but I knew that I would have a great team at St. Vincent,” she said on choosing to receive care at St. Vincent. “This made recovery so much easier for my family and I, having people close to home who can help out.”

Following surgery with St. Vincent’s team, Kylee was awake immediately, but due to the removal of the clusters, she had lost most of her movement in her left hand and had numbness on her left arm that continued into her shoulder. To treat this, she began a rehabilitation program with occupational therapists through exercises like dexterity and writing, grip, and more.

SVH Kylee Macks Content Image 1Macks has since made a full recovery thanks to the full spectrum of care she received at St. Vincent, and may only need one more surgery for an issue present in a different area of the brain. Macks can now continue doing what she loves, working for the USDA studying grasshopper populations, and attending Montana State University in Bozeman.

“The experience at St. Vincent was great, for the situation that it was,” she said. “They made me feel as comfortable as possible.”

SAINTS 2021 to Benefit St. Vincent Neuroscience Center of Excellence

Funds raised through SAINTS 2021 will be dedicated to enhancing and expanding the neurosciences department at St. Vincent Healthcare. Whether someone is affected by headaches and back pain or has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or another neurological condition, the St. Vincent Neuroscience Center of Excellence is able to meet all their specialty care needs. Serving over 16,000 neurological patients each year, the team at St. Vincent is committed to customizing each patient’s care plan to give them peace of mind and support as they navigate their treatment and therapies. The Neuroscience Campaign, funded in part by SAINTS 2021, will support several clinic and program enhancements such as a remodel of the Neuroscience Center and construction of a state-of-the-art Multiple Sclerosis Infusion Center. Both projects will increase capacity, comfortability, access to care and technology.

On Thursday, July 29, the St. Vincent Foundation is hosting a SAINTS 2021 “Day of Giving'' from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Those wanting to support the Neuroscience program at St. Vincent Healthcare can text, call or go online to make a contribution. Gifts over $1,000 will be announced the evening of SAINTS.

  • Text SAINTS to 32037
  • Donate online at svh.org/SAINTS
  • Call (406) 237-3616

SAINTS 2021 will be held outdoors at Camelot Ranch on Friday, July 30. The evening of the celebration will include food, drinks, and live music. Tickets were limited and have sold out.

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