A Patient Story – Reba

A Patient Story – Reba

It was dinner time, on October 8, 2019, when Reba began experiencing unusual symptoms.  “My eye felt like it was blurry from flashes of a camera,” she explained.  Her husband noticed her face drooping as she began to fall into the floor.  He immediately called 911.  EMS personnel explained to her husband that Reba was having a stroke and needed to be taken to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center for stroke care.

Mrs. Crass arrived at the hospital at 7:35pm.  She and her family were initially hesitant about receiving treatment due to the potential risks. They agreed to administer a medication, which can dissolve stroke related clots called tPA; however, it did not fully resolve the blockage.  Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Hixson explained to her family that she needed to have a procedure to remove the clot as soon as possible.  Her husband was considering the weight of his decision when her daughter insisted, “We need to do it now. The doctor said she needs it now!”

Reba recalls being awake for the procedure and her head hurting terribly.  She could feel tears coming down her face and asked if she could wipe them, but she was told it was very important for her to remain still.  Within a few hours following her procedure, she was feeling normal again and upon further testing was able to return home two days later.

Dr. Robert Hixson recounts the evening of Reba’s stroke.  “I was having dinner with my family when I heard a terrible sound coming from my phone. The Viz.ai application was alerting me of a large vessel occlusion,” he explained.  Dr. Hixson, a neuro-interventional radiologist with Vista Radiology, is one of the first in East Tennessee to use new artificial intelligence in early detection of strokes.  “The technology not only allowed me to view CT and advanced perfusion images from my phone without going to my workstation, it also saved approximately 10-15 minutes of Mrs. Crass’ brain suffering from a lack of blood flow,” said Dr. Hixson. Because of Viz.ai technology, Dr. Hixson was able to alert the ER to prepare for her procedure while the patient was still in Radiology and before the images were read by a radiologist at the hospital.

Her procedure began at 8:53pm, and Dr. Hixson had the vessel open by 9:08pm.  She began improving immediately following the procedure and by midnight that evening was completely normal again.  “It has been said nearly 1.9 million brain cells die each minute during a stroke,” said Dr. Hixson.  “That’s why being fast to seek help is so important,” he continued. 

Dr. Hixson explained how the new artificial intelligence software is helping him and his team in stroke care.  “Viz.ai uses an artificial intelligence program to interpret images before they are read by a radiologist on site.  The images from the scan are compared with images in a database, while the patient is still in the CT scanner, and provides an alert when an occlusion is detected. In fact, the software pinpoints the exact location of the blockage.  This advancement is literally saving lives,” he said.

Mrs. Crass, who recently moved to Indiana, is so thankful she has fully recovered.  “God had his hand on me the whole time,” Reba gently shared.  She continued, “We were told that every minute counts when you have a stroke, and I know my husband calling for help so quickly helped save my life.”

Peter Emanuel, M.D.

Physician Highlight:
Peter Emanuel, M.D.

Peter Emanuel grew up on the gulf coast in Mobile, Alabama where his father worked in construction. Dr. Emanuel learned much about people and the value of hard work while toiling alongside his father in the hot Gulf coast summers, but admits that the work inspired him to want something else for his life. As a child, Peter was very proficient in the sciences, enjoyed problem solving, and had a desire to take care of people. It was no surprise that he set his eyes on the medical field.

Peter attended medical school at nearby University of Alabama where he was first exposed to the field of radiology during rotations. He completed his residency at The University of Arkansas, known for a strong diagnostic and interventional radiology program, where residents are given many hands-on opportunities. Peter’s year of Vascular and Interventional fellowship training at the University of Virginia was quite intense. While draining, he admits he learned a great deal and gained invaluable experience. Dr. Emanuel chose the field of radiology because it touches most, if not all, of the specialty areas which he considers exciting. “I enjoy Diagnostic Radiology because it allows me to solve problems while helping others. Interventional Radiology offers more direct, hands-on patient care. I love both,” explained Dr. Emanuel.

After completing his fellowship in 1997, Dr. Emanuel began searching for a practice in East Tennessee where he and his wife could be near family and friends. He wanted to be part of an advanced medical community within a small town environment which led him to a group in Oak Ridge, TN which later became part of Vista Radiology, PC. He departed Vista temporarily when the Oak Ridge radiologists decided to leave and reform their own group. In 2007, Dr. Emanuel rejoined Vista, which he states was the best decision of his professional life. “I was attracted to being part of a larger group of sub-specialized radiologists with the ability to serve multiple locations,” explained Dr. Emanuel.

Dr. Emanuel enjoys the challenges of the constantly evolving new radiology technologies and techniques and is driven by his desire to provide the best care for his patients.

In addition to his care of patients, Dr. Emanuel assumed the role as President of Vista Radiology in 2019. He believes the practice is positioned as one of the strongest groups in the region. “As President of Vista Radiology, my goal is for the practice to remain one of the most progressive groups in the country and to provide the highest quality care to our patients and hospital partners,” he explained. With over 45 sub-specialized radiologists offering care 24/7, the group covers the entire expanse of radiology care.

In his spare time, Dr. Emanuel enjoys reading and exploring the world. His love of the outdoors has taken him hiking and trekking from the Smoky Mountains to Mongolia. He also enjoys spending time with his lovely wife and three wonderful, increasingly independent daughters.

A Patient Story – Beverly

A Patient Story – Beverly

In July 2019, Beverly had her annual mammogram. Due to her strong family history of breast cancer, it was recommended that she have a bilateral breast MRI six months later. The week after her MRI, she received a call from Parkwest Comprehensive Breast Center to schedule a bilateral breast ultrasound because of something that enhanced on her scan. Two days later, Dr. Amanda Squires, a Women’s Imaging Radiologist with Vista Radiology, conducted an ultrasound guided biopsy. Dr. Squires was not pleased with what she saw on the results and recommended Beverly have genetic testing. The following day, Beverly received a call from Dr. Squires informing her that the biopsy revealed malignant breast cancer.

When Beverly was growing up in nearby Maryville, Tennessee, her best friend’s sister was in Xray school. She would share with the girls about her experience which peaked Beverly’s interest. “I chose radiology because I was very interested in healthcare and wanted a career where I could help people,” shared Beverly. A retired CT/XR/MAMM Tech from Outpatient Diagnostic Center of Knoxville, Beverly first met Dr. Squires when she read Mammography for the center. “She was very knowledgeable, kind and we techs felt like she was the best mammography radiologist we had ever had,” she explained. Beverly went on to describe her experience now as her patient, “Dr. Squires was so sweet and caring during my biopsy and phone call the following day.”

Beverly is no stranger to breast cancer. Her maternal grandmother had breast cancer in her early 70’s resulting in a unilateral mastectomy followed by chemo and radiation. Around 3 years later, the cancer reoccurred in her Grandmother’s other breast ,but this time, it had metastasized to her bones and liver. She died around 6 months later. Beverly’s mom and aunt were also diagnosed with breast cancer. Following their treatments, they are now cancer free.

The impact of watching her family walk through breast cancer directly impacted the treatment she chose. Beverly’s surgeon explained that she had a 33% chance of reoccurrence. “Because of my mom and aunt’s success in beating breast cancer after having bilateral mastectomies, I felt like it was the right choice for me. I didn’t want to worry about it coming back in the other breast,” explained Beverly.

Beverly credits Dr. Squires with her positive outcome because of her recommendation for the follow up MRI. “I had no node involvement. They would not have found my cancer so early had it not been for Dr. Squires recommendation,” shared Beverly. She continued, “Dr. Squires saved my life! I have never felt so well taken care of by doctors in my life. They all worked together like a well-oiled machine.” When asked about how this experience has changed her, Beverly said, “The whole journey has made me so thankful and appreciative of how blessed I am.”

The Impact of Viz.ai Technology on Stroke Care

The Impact of Viz.ai Technology on Stroke Care

When asked about his experience with Viz.ai platform since Vista Radiology’s rollout of the technology in 2019, Dr. Robert Hixson shared:

“With Viz.ai technology, I can be at dinner reviewing a patient’s acute stroke scan on my mobile phone. The application saves critical minutes resulting in faster diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Many times, I am the one calling the team before they know the results of the scan to alert them of a problem I can potentially fix since I was notified by the app.  The ability to be proactive in the treatment of stroke patients is a game changer.”

H. Robert Hixson, M.D.

Formerly from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Dr. Hixson attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center in Memphis. Following his residency, he completed a 2-year Interventional Neuroradiology fellowship at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. His clinical interests range from minimally invasive cerebral aneurysm treatment and endovascular stroke therapy to carotid angioplasty and stenting and head and neck vascular malformation sclerotherapy. His memberships include American Society of Neuroradiology, Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Radiology, and American Roentgen Ray Society. Dr. Hixson was board-certified in 2013 by the American Board of Radiology and joined the Vista Radiology team in 2017.

A Patient Story – Geralyn

A Patient Story – Geralyn

In April of 2018, Geralyn fell and suffered a concussion. When she began experiencing migraines a year later, she knew there was reason for concern. At 62 years old, Geralyn is the oldest in her family to survive with aneurysms. She explained how her life was turned upside down when her mother died suddenly, at the age of 52, from an aneurysm. “Most of my family died in their 40’s from fatal aneurysms,” she said. “I felt like I was a ticking time bomb.”

In September, Geralyn was referred to Dr. Keith Woodward, neuro-interventional radiologist with Visa Radiology, for further evaluation. The migraines were not normal for her and she knew with added memory loss that there was a problem. Dr. Woodward discovered three aneurysms in her brain. He presented several treatment options to Geralyn, yet her decision to proceed was met with great anxiety and fear. “I was so worked up about the situation. My daughter encouraged me to take it one day at a time,” she shared.

With her daughter by her side, Geralyn underwent surgery to repair the aneurysms on October 31, 2019. After three hours, Dr. Woodward was able to fill the three aneurysms with platinum coiling, but in the process discovered she had a total of six. Afterwards, Geralyn felt great. “I felt like myself – and was not scared anymore,” she shared. Dr. Woodward will continue to monitor the remaining three sites over the next year to determine if additional surgery is needed.

Following the surgery, Geralyn told her daughter, “It was scary, but worth it!” The sense of relief that she overcame the condition that has taken so many of her loved ones gave her great peace. “When I saw Dr. Woodward for my follow up, I just broke down and cried,” said Geralyn. She continued, “You saved my life!”.