According to the FDA, the Pipeline Embolization Device is a flexible mesh tube made of platinum and a nickel-cobalt-chromium alloy. It can be used to block off large or giant wide-necked aneurysms in the internal carotid artery, a major blood vessel supplying blood to the front of the brain.
So far, Tytle has performed five procedures using the pipeline stent and has two more scheduled. Guzman's remains the most dramatic aneurysm Tytle has repaired using the pipeline stent.
Early prognosis poor
Guzman's prognosis was poor without surgery. The aneurysm was likely to have continued growing and it also could have burst, causing internal hemorrhaging.
Tytle said he had a patient two years ago with an expanding aneurysm who was in a lot of pain. Like Guzman, he was planning to go to Argentina or Turkey for the procedure. But before he could get his passport, he died.
Before the surgery, there were two times when Guzman thought his aneurysm was going to burst. Once, during a stressful work day, he thought he could feel the aneurysm throbbing, he said.
“It was scary because I knew what could happen, and the best thing I could do was relax,” Guzman said.
Since the surgery, Guzman has experienced a renewed sense of positivity and a strengthening of his faith.
Guzman, a member of the Cheyenne tribe, goes to an American Indian ceremony known as a sweat every two weeks. During the sweat, he and other tribe members pray in a sealed hut for a few hours. Before the aneurysm and the surgery, he only went once a year.
Guzman said he believes his American Indian heritage also played a role in his recovery.
Three years ago, Guzman's brother took a vow to cure him. He started participating in a sun dance, a three-day ritual that Guzman's tribe holds every summer in Seiling.
During the ritual, Guzman's brother must dance for three days and three nights without food or water.
“The whole time he's dancing, you're praying,” Guzman said. “I feel like that had a lot to do with my success because he sacrificed for me, and my prayer was answered.”