In 2015, Darrell Barrett was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. Four months after his diagnosis, he noticed his belly growing larger. His wife grew concerned, but Darrell carried on with his day-to-day routine. In his mid-60s, he still held a full-time job at a major outfitter store. He loved to fish and was active; although, he started to feel lethargic and his extended abdomen made him increasingly uncomfortable.
It wasn’t until nearly a year after his diagnosis, when a fall at work sent him to the hospital for X-rays, that he came face-to-face with the severity of his condition. Doctors found fluid in his abdomen. Darrell’s liver was failing to work properly.
At the hospital, doctors drained 17 litres of fluid from Darrell’s abdomen using a procedure called paracentesis. After that, Darrell returned to the interventional radiology suite at Regina General Hospital every three weeks to have his abdomen drained to relieve the pressure and discomfort. Soon, his visits became more frequent, with bi-weekly and, ultimately, weekly visits.
Interventional radiology procedures, like paracentesis, are less invasive than surgery. Under a local anesthetic, a 12-inch tube is inserted through an incision into the patient’s abdomen. The procedure is image-guided, using ultrasound to direct the tube. Each drain lasts up to three hours and removes up to 11 litres of fluid.
Overall, the process takes the better part of a day, and Darrell needs another day before he’s fully recovered and has his energy back. But he’s grateful because he feels like a new person each time he has the procedure.
When you’re carrying around 17 litres or so of excess fluid, simple things like bending or kneeling are difficult. When you can’t even see your toes and have little energy, it really affects your quality of life.
At 67, Darrell still works full-time. Interventional radiology has made him able to function better at work. He has more energy to go fishing with his friends and colleagues, and he has more stamina to keep up with his four grandchildren.
I am glad a procedure like this is available to me locally and there are skilled doctors and nurses to deliver it,” he says. “It’s important for people to know by supporting our local hospital’s technology, and the nurses and doctors who deliver them, people can receive the care they need. It just helps make lives better.
“By supporting the Foundation’s $3.6 million therapeutic and diagnostic imaging campaign, donors will ensure our doctors and nurses will receive the best possible technology and equipment to help many patients receive a timely diagnosis and enhanced treatment," says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation.
"That way, we can help local health care to be the best it can be for people throughout southern Saskatchewan."