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Jody Bunzol’s Patient Story

Neurosurgeon: H. Hunt Batjer, MD, FAANS, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

Patient: Jody Bunzol, age 28, Moyamoya disease

At the age of 27, Jody Bunzol was diagnosed with a medical condition called Moyamoya disease. In May 2008, she experienced four transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) in the course of the month. A TIA is a temporary cerebrovascular event that leaves no permanent damage. However, TIAs can be a precursor to stroke, and in fact, about 30 percent of all people who suffer a major stroke experience a prior TIA, and 10 percent of all TIA victims suffer a stroke within two weeks.

Moyamoya disease is a progressive disease of the carotid arteries and their major branches that can lead to irreversible blockage. The name comes from the Japanese word for a "puff of smoke" due to the appearance of the lesions that form. In fact, it affects people of Japanese origin far more commonly than the rest of the population. It is a disease that tends to affect children and adults in the third to fourth decades of life. Children with the disease may have strokes, TIAs, slowly progressive cognitive decline, seizures or involuntary movements of the extremities. Adults more commonly experience intracranial hemorrhages as a result of the disease.

Jody was admitted to the hospital for a series of tests on June 13, 2008, and diagnosed the next day. Due to the complexity and lack of blood flow to her brain, she had to undergo two separate surgeries. The first surgery was on the left side of her brain on June 24 and the second surgery was on July 22. Extracranial-intracranial bypass (ECIC) surgeries were performed to increase the blood flow to her brain in the quickest and most effective manner and reduce her risk of suffering a major stroke.

Dr.Batjer performed my surgeries with Bernard R. Bendok, MD, assisting. During my first surgery, I was in the ICU for three days, moved to a regular hospital room and released on Saturday. For the second surgery, I was in the ICU for two days, moved to a regular hospital room and again, released on Saturday. To my recollection, it seems like both surgeries lasted a good part of the day.

My staples and stitches were removed about two weeks after each surgery. I went through both operations with very few complications. After the first surgery, I had a few problems with my speech, but those quickly resolved about two days later. I was out of work for two months and in and out of the hospital during those months with several follow-up exams, in addition to testing while in the hospital.

I am very fortunate to not have any restrictions on activities in my everyday life as a result of the surgeries. I was released to go back to work on August 11. However, I still had the occasional MRI or test and follow-up appointment with Dr. Batjer to ensure everything was running smoothly and/or to ease my mind.

Not only is Dr. Batjer an excellent neurosurgeon, but he and his staff do a wonderful job to make sure the patient and family members are as comfortable as possible, given the circumstances of undergoing brain surgery. More than a year has gone by since both surgeries and I am doing very well. I have an angiogram with dye scheduled in September to make sure that everything is OK. I will forever be thankful to Dr. Batjer and his team for saving my life!

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