Graham Nickless expected a restful vacation on Marco Island last month but instead got to stay in Physicians Regional Medical Center at Pine Ridge.
Nonetheless, he will have good memories of the neurovascular team once he gets back to his native England.
"I take my hat off to the hospital," said Nickless, 59, who was discharged recently after a 16-day stay for a ruptured brain aneurysm.
On Wednesday, he toured the hospital's new neurovascular surgical suite, estimated to cost more than $3.5 million, where specialists can combine diagnosis and treatment of brain attacks, or strokes, and aneurysms in a single procedure. The suite was opened to public tours and will be ready for patient use next week
"The equipment is the latest technology so it is one-stop shop for patients," said Dr. Eric Eskioglu, a neurosurgeon at Physicians Regional.
He is one of 30 cerebrovascular neurosurgeons in the United States who specializes in minimally-invasive procedures to treat strokes, brain bleeds and aneurysms. The procedures involve putting coils into the vessel bubble of an aneurysm and using stents to open blocked arteries.
"Brain attacks are like heart attacks, we can treat them," he said, adding that he gets patients from as far away as Sarasota for the minimally invasive treatments.
Since he joined Physicians Regional in April, 2011, he has treated more than 100 patients with coils or by clipping aneurysms through open surgery.
The new technology at the hospital allows for faster and more precise diagnosis of brain attacks and aneurysms with three dimensional imaging. It also features two advanced X-ray detectors for high resolution images without distortion that is common with conventional X-ray techniques.
"We can also stream images of outside patients from another emergency room," Eskioglu said. "We can wirelessly bring their films here so we can anticipate what (we can expect). The diagnosis is a lot faster, the treatment is faster and the radiation level is a lot lower."
Nickless, the patient from England, had been vacationing in Marco Island for one day last month before a severe headache and neck pain prompted his wife, Lesley, a registered nurse, to get him to Physicians Regional at Collier Boulevard. He was transferred to the Pine Ridge campus.
He was treated for the brain swelling but the precise location of the brain bleed couldn't determined with the hospital's existing equipment. Eskioglu or his brother, Dr. Brian Mason, an interventional specialist at the hospital, may be able to now with the new technology.
Nickless has to wait a while for that, as part of a protocol, but he isn't worried anything will happen in the meantime. He will be evaluated later this month to see if scarring has developed at the site of the bleed.
"The doctors have given me no indication that I am a walking time bomb," he said.
He's just not allowed to play tennis or have a beer for now.
"I've got one the best guys looking out for me," he said, "so I don't have any fear."