Caregiver Receives Innovative Treatment for Hereditary Hemorrhagic Condition
Several years ago, Tehya Ray watched her sister suffer through several challenging health problems, eventually requiring brain surgery. During her treatment, her sister was diagnosed with Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). This rare genetic disorder causes malformation of the blood vessels that can lead to potentially life-threatening problems due to bleeding related to arteriovenous malformations (AVM), primarily in the lungs and brain.
Because the condition is hereditary, Tehya received testing and was also diagnosed with HHT. As a caregiver and CT technologist at St. Vincent Healthcare, she was acutely aware of the importance of continuing to monitor her health for indications of potential life-altering problems.
After having an emergency appendectomy, it was noted on her CT scans that there was a mass in her lung. Given her medical history and her knowledge as a healthcare worker, Tehya talked to her physician about the possibility that it could be related to HHT and the potential risks. After confirming that it was likely a malformation, she discussed her options with Dr. Brian Christenson, an Interventional Radiologist. Dr. Christenson recommended a minimally invasive AVM Embolization procedure that would close the blood vessel to resolve the malformation and the potential complications. During the procedure, guided by x-ray technology, Dr. Christenson inserted a catheter in Tehya’s artery to access and treat the malformation in the lung.
"Pulmonary AVMs are complex and usually treated at major medical centers in large cities, but with our skilled care team and state-of-the-art interventional equipment at St. Vincent, we can confidently treat complex cases, like Tehya’s, right here in Billings,” said Dr Christenson.
Because the procedure was minimally invasive, Tehya was able to return to work quickly.
“It was awesome. I was able to get back to work right away,” she shared. “I was experiencing some other respiratory symptoms before the surgery and now have more endurance. Honestly, prior to my diagnosis, I didn’t know that an AVM embolization was even an option and that the procedure could be done right here at St. V’s.”
Having experienced the impact of watching her sister have to travel out of state for her care, Tehya was relieved and pleased to have access to this specialized care in Billings with the expertise and innovative technology now available at St. Vincent.
"We strive to be a major center for minimally invasive treatments to allow patients, like Tehya, to receive state-of-the-art care close to home,” shared Dr. Christenson.