Nick2002 fanshotted the scary news on Friday that incoming freshman OL Lacy Westbrook was hospitalized and underwent brain surgery for an aneurysm. When I heard about this I got chills, as this is a life-threatening condition. All of our thoughts are with Lacy and his family and that he can make a complete recovery. Football is so far in the back seat on this one that it doesn't even count right now.
A harrowing few hours for UCLA Thursday night, and a tentatively happy ending: According to ESPN Los Angeles, 2012 Bruin signee Lacy Westbrook is in stable condition after undergoing brain surgery to repair an aneurysm. A spokesman at UC Irvine Medical Center said Westbrook, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle from nearby Compton, was admitted to the hospital earlier in the week after he collapsed while jogging. He's expected to make a full recovery.
Jon Gold at Inside UCLA added this on his blog:
...UCLA head coach Jim Mora has been in contact with the family, saying: "I have talked with the family and they have indicated that Lacy is in good spirits. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the young man and his family as they confront this difficult situation."
I've been looking around the internets to see if there are any updates on his condition, but I haven't found anything new yet. Therefore, I'm guessing a bit as I write this. If I'm off base, then just consider this today's lesson in neurosurgical emergencies. If I'm on target, I want everyone to understand how serious Lacy's condition is.
I hope everyone takes the time to add a get well wish here and I will try to find a way to forward everyone's thoughts and well wishes form this thread and in Nick2002's to Lacy and his family. Lacy is a Bruin, so he's our family, too.
What likely happened to Lacy is what is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). This is a type of bleeding within the skull, typically from arteries at the base of the brain. It occurs commonly after trauma, but can also occur spontaneously. The most common cause of spontaneous rupture (~75%) is when a preexisting aneurysm - a saccular out pouching of a normal artery - ruptures. Some reference material can be found here. Most likely, Lacy had this aneurysm for years, with it enlarging slowly and silently, until it finally leaked and bled while he was jogging on Thursday.
SAH can present in a spectrum of severity, ranging from a sudden severe headache to syncope (a sudden collapse, as apparently occurred with Lacy), to severe disability to immediate coma and death. About 15% of people who suffer a SAH never make it to the hospital, and almost half of people with SAH die within a month. Of the survivors , up to half have some form of disability afterward. If Lacy's doctors feel he will make a full recovery, then he is actually pretty fortunate.
Surgery and intra-arterial catheter directed procedures can be performed to close an aneurysm to ensure it does not bleed again. In surgery, a titanium clip is placed at the base of the aneurysmal sac to cut it off from the artery. It also allows certain important treatments to be started earlier and offers a better long term prognosis compared to those in whom surgery is delayed or who have underlying diseases that make surgery impractical. Blood pressure, intracranial pressure, cerebrospinal fluid flow, spasm in the surrounding blood vessels, seizure prophylaxis, and electrolyte balances are just some of the important issues which will be followed and managed in the next week and beyond. Anyone with suffers a ruptured aneurysm and SAH and undergoes surgical clipping has a long way to go, but there is reason for encouragement in this case.
My intention is not to add a bunch of drama to Lacy's story with these numbers and issues, and I'm sure his family has been well informed on these stats already, but I wanted everyone to know how lucky we are that Lacy was diagnosed and that doctors could intervene and that his prognosis is good. It's hard to think of someone being "lucky" in a case like this, but we should be really grateful that things were not worse. We will leave the future to the future. Right now, let's focus on getting Lacy well and out of the hospital.