Fort St. John woman still awaits resolution to surgery complications

FORT ST. JOHN, BC — A Fort St. John woman is still awaiting a resolution to complications from her most recent surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Kaylene Farrell is currently awaiting admission to the University of Alberta Hospital after her swelling increased from her surgery in June. The operation involved removing a brain tumor that had reappeared.

Farrell’s doctors say the swelling is due to a tear in the membrane surrounding his brain.

Her staples were removed in Fort St. John about three weeks after her surgery, and she says she noticed some swelling. Farrell thought a little swelling was to be expected.

When the swelling increased the next day, she decided to go to the emergency room in Fort St. John.

Once admitted, she underwent blood tests and a CT scan. None of the tests showed signs of infection, Farrell said, and the incision appeared to heal.

Hospital staff contacted his neurosurgeon, who said the fluid should clear up on its own. They also did a lumbar puncture to send cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cultures to be tested for bacteria.

As this test takes a few days, Farrell was given antibiotics every 12 hours as a precaution. After four days of antibiotics, the CSF culture came back clear. She was sent home with no explanation for the complication

Farrell had bi-weekly appointments with his surgeon. She was later diagnosed with pseudomeningocele, which she says is “an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid that occurs due to leakage from the CSF-filled spaces surrounding the brain and/or spinal cord as a result trauma or surgery”.

The tear caused Farrell several symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, a constant headache, and neck pain.

In early August, she returned to the emergency room in Fort St. John as the swelling worsened again. The previous tests were repeated and Farrell was admitted to receive the antibiotics this time.

The pseudomeningocele measured 10.5 centimeters by 7.5 centimeters by 5.5 centimeters.

The ER doctor contacted the neurosurgeon in Edmonton who was replacing his doctor, who was on vacation.

Farrell was asked to return to Edmonton last week, where they began draining the pseudomeningocoele every other day and then putting a pressure bandage over the incision to hopefully allow the tear to heal.

She says more than 250 milliliters of fluid drained out in four days, but the swelling kept coming back.

Wednesday morning she had another appointment with the neurosurgeon. They decided to stop the compresses.

On Wednesday, Farrell was waiting to be admitted to the emergency room at the University of Alberta. His doctors had planned to insert a small tube into his lower back to drain cerebrospinal fluid, which will hopefully relieve the pressure on his head.

Other options include a shunt, which is a hollow tube surgically placed to drain CSF and redirect it to another part of the body to be reabsorbed; or exploratory surgery to see if there is a tear that could be repaired.

Farrell had his first brain tumor removed in 2013 and was discharged nine days later.

She returned to Edmonton over the years for treatment, where doctors monitored a questionable spot in subsequent MRI scans.

Farrell was in nursing school when her symptoms returned. She was told her tumor recurred on another trip to Edmonton after symptoms worsened over a period of months.

This time, she said, he was smaller and growing slowly, so surgery was not considered urgent.

The surgery was performed on June 10, 2022 at 5:30 a.m. and took approximately five hours.

Farrel’s friend, Keira Cockwill, set up a GoFundMe at that time to support her after the surgery.

Now Farrell’s mother, Jennifer Hall, has set up a separate GoFundMe to support her daughter as doctors try to repair the tear in the membrane surrounding her brain.

“I just wish I could trade places with her – she’s my baby,” Hall wrote on the GoFundMe page.

For those who do not wish to donate to GoFundMe, there is an e-transfer option at [email protected]

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