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Monday, March 4, 2024

Medical Mystery Solved After 2-Year Struggle

Posted By: Advancing Care

February 2021 marked the onset of Amanda LaFrance’s stubborn stiff neck. It wasn't pain she felt, but rather a pressure originating from the base of her skull.

Initially, LaFrance’s primary care physician suspected a sinus infection and prescribed an over-the-counter nasal spray. When her symptoms persisted, her doctor recommended LaFrance try a neti pot for relief.

Despite these treatments, her symptoms continued to worsen over several months.

“I began losing mobility, causing me to drag my right leg,” recalled LaFrance. “Eventually, I lost function of my right arm and my vision and hearing started failing.”

LaFrance’s case had progressed significantly, and she needed surgery. Fortunately, she chose to put her trust in Jared Pisapia, MD
Jared Pisapia, MD and Amanda LaFrance

After meeting with several physicians, including an allergist and ENT specialist, LaFrance finally received an MRI and a definitive diagnosis — Chiari type 1 malformation.

This condition is caused by a blockage in the natural flow of brain fluid where the base of the skull meets the upper spine. Essentially, there is crowding such that a part of the brain is pushed down through an opening at the base of the skull.

LaFrance’s case had progressed significantly, and she needed surgery. Fortunately, she chose to put her trust in Jared Pisapia, MD, a WMCHealth neurosurgeon.

“While Chiari type 1 symptoms can show up at any age, most patients begin having issues during childhood. That's why pediatric neurosurgeons often handle Chiari malformation cases, even in adults,” explained Dr. Pisapia.

On June 5, 2023, Dr. Pisapia performed surgery to create more space at the back of LaFrance’s skull to relieve the pressure. With assistance from Dr. Pisapia’s expert anesthesia team, LaFrance had a swift, pain-free recovery.

“The surgical procedure successfully restored the cerebrospinal fluid pathways, and after two long years, finally resolved LaFrance's symptoms,” said Dr. Pisapia. “At her follow-up appointment, her incision had healed and she got her mobility back.”

“I have nothing but good things to say about Dr. Pisapia and the team of doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists I encountered at WMCHealth,” shared LaFrance. "Thanks to their exceptional care, I was up and about shortly after the surgery, and back to looking after my mother and young nephew."

To learn more about WMCHealth’s Brain and Spine Institute, visit our website or call 914.493.2363 to make an appointment.