Oldest patient to date receives stent

June 04, 2015

Mary Battitori and Dr. Hakki

Mary Battitori of DuBois, 91, likes to spend her time playing bingo and doing crafts.

That doesn’t sound remarkable, but the fact that she is there is.

Battitori wasn’t feeling too well one day in February. The lower part of her back had bad pains and when she held out her arms, she felt a twisted pain.

She went to the Emergency Department at Penn Highlands DuBois because nothing would help.

Dr. Russ Cameron, emergency medicine physician and chief medical officer at PH DuBois, examined her. With a CT scan, he realized that she had an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The aorta is the main blood vessel that runs from the heart through the center of the chest and abdomen to supply blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when an area of the aorta becomes very large or balloons out, thinning the walls.

Because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding. The doctors were worried about this for her.

Depending on the size and rate it is growing, treatments for an abdominal aortic aneurysm vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. Batttori’s was 7.4 cm in size - large enough to require surgery.

Cameron called Dr. Hadi Hakki, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at The Heart Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare.

Hakki spoke with Battitori who agreed that if there was a way to fix the problem, it should be done. 
And there was a way. Aneurysms can be repaired with a stent to reinforce the area that is weak. Stents are thin mesh-like tubes. They are inserted into the artery through small holes made in the groin area for access.

Stents are positioned by a doctor into the correct spot in the artery through the use of x-ray equipment.
Battitori was to be the oldest person to undergo this operation in Hakki’s career – and maybe for anyone anywhere, Hakki thinks. He has never heard of anyone outside of their 80s undergoing this procedure.

“It was high risk,” Hakki said, “but she did beautifully.” Battitori was in the hospital for a few days, spent some recovery time at the DuBois Nursing Home and then home.

“It helped my back and stomach pain,” she said. She noticed the difference immediately after surgery.
“Something had hurt,” she said. “I was in quite a bit of pain. I kept doing things but didn’t feel well. I don’t do much complaining.”

Battitori was happy to be home. 

Born on Halloween in 1923 in Lanes Mills, she previously lived for 60-plus years in “the flats” of DuBois. She worked for Jeffers Electronics for 20-plus years and at the DuBois Area High School as a custodian for many more.

She never drank, smoked or had many health issues. She lives a good life, always worked hard and lived so she can hold her head up any place she goes, she said.
Now, she can do so a lot longer.