Woman falls off train, injury turns rare disease that may leave her brain dead

Mumbai – A 38-year-old woman who fell off a train last week thought she was lucky to have survived the accident despite suffering severe head and neck injuries.

Shalini had reasons to think so as her CT scan came out normal. However, little did she know that her injury would soon change her world. She is now suffering from a rare disease called vertebral artery dissection which if not treated would leave her brain dead.

On Monday evening, Shalini was travelling from Mira Road to Churchgate along with her 80-year-old mother-in-law and 11-month-old boy. Her husband Raj recollects the events of the day. “On reaching Marine Lines when she was getting down, the train started and she fell on the platform with the baby. We immediately rushed her to Bombay Hospital as she sustained injuries on her head and neck and became semi-conscious.”

“Pain subsided after she was given medication. Her CT scan reports were normal and she was sent back to home,” said Dr D B Modi, interventional neuro-radiologist.

However, she complained of vomiting, headache and suffered from severe diarrhea. After her condition deteriorated, she was rushed to Bombay Hospital on Tuesday morning. It was revealed at the hospital that there was no coordination between her brain and legs and she was unable to walk straight.

“MRI of the brain showed a mild infarct. The neuro surgeon confirmed that she was suffering from a very rare condition called vertebral artery dissection. The left vertebral artery supplying blood to the small brain was injured after the neck injury from the push. Angiography confirmed that the patient had a partially torn artery. A condition rarely found. Even in world medical literature only 3 per cent cases are reported with such a condition,” said Dr Modi.

“In this condition full flow of the blood is restricted because of dissection and there are a number of small clots formed. The stagnant blood goes up to the brain and blocks the smaller vessels in the brain leading to infarct,” he added.

On Tuesday, Shalini was operated upon by a team of doctors. The operation lasted four hours. “The only mode of treatment is to block the damaged artery and continue supplying blood from the right artery. A special coil is placed in the damaged portion to block the artery.

“Had she not been treated she would have been in a vegetable state as she would have released more clots from the damaged artery to the brain,” said Dr Modi.

(Name changed to protect identity)

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