In February 2007, 10 year old Grant Pearson had pioneering microsurgery to treat an extremely rare neurological condition.
6, Grant started to suffer from headaches which initially led his
parents to think that he might simply need glasses. When this didn’t
resolve the problem, Grant’s GP prescribed medication for migraines.
However, the headaches continued and when Grant began to suffer attacks
of temporary paralysis, it became clear that something more serious was
Grant’s Mum says:
“At its worst, Grant would
experience these mini strokes and severe headaches two or three times a
week and I would have to rush to his school to collect him. These
strokes would leave him feeling completely numb on his left side for up
to 45 minutes. It was really frightening.”
It was nine months
before doctors finally diagnosed the extremely rare condition moyamoya
syndrome and Grant was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital
(GOSH) for pre-op tests.
The condition leads to irreversible
blockage of the main blood vessels to the brain as they enter the skull.
In children it tends to cause strokes or seizures. The clinical
features are cerebral ischemia (strokes), recurrent transient ischemic
attacks (TIA's or "mini strokes"), sensorimotor paralysis (numbness in
the extremities), convulsions and/or migraine-like headaches.
February 2007, GOSH neurosurgeon Dominic Thompson performed pioneering
revascularisation surgery on Grant. The purpose of the operation was to
increase blood flow to his brain and thus eliminate the risk of major
stroke. The smallest blood vessels exist at the back of the brain, where
it isn’t possible to operate, so surgery had to be conducted via a hole
in the left side of Grant’s skull. Mr Thompson explains the technique
for this four hour operation:
“The revascularisation procedure
aims to improve the blood supply to the brain where it is failing
because of the moyamoya disease. We do this by utilising one of the
arteries that normally supplies blood to the face and scalp and moving
this onto the surface of the brain. Under a microscope we open up the
membranes that envelop the brain to expose the small blood vessels of
the organ and the brain tissue itself.”
Grant will always have the
condition, but the surgery has removed the risk of major stroke and
thus the risk of permanent neurodisability. Grant continues to come to
GOSH for follow-up appointments, but the only medication he takes for
his condition nowadays is an asprin each day to keep his blood thin.
His Mum adds:
was on hold for Grant for a long time, so it’s great to see him
enjoying things like PE at school, back in the playground with his
friends and playing with his little brother at home. The whole family
spent last Christmas at Butlins, which was wonderful and just the sort
of thing we never imagined we’d be able to do with Grant.”
More information on revascularisation can be found in our factsheet.
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