Finds Miracle Surgery 1,200 Miles from Home
Iowa -- “You want to feel my hands?”
Toni Kolsrud, 55, and a resident of Waterville, Iowa, offers
this question to everyone she sees. For the past 29 years,
Kolsrud has been affected by Raynaud’s
Syndrome, a condition that causes certain areas of the body such as hands and
feet to feel numb and cool. Kolsrud’s hands felt like ice.
“It felt like frostbite,” Kolsrud said. “My fingers would tingle.”
Kolsrud did not even realize it was a problem. She thought her hands were just
cold. Approximately six years ago she finally received a diagnosis for her cold
hands. She also learned that her face was not red by nature; she was affected
by facial blushing with hyperpyrexia. Her face would blush for no apparent reason.
This also caused a tingling pain that can become extremely uncomfortable.
“ Prior to talking with Chris Peterson (physician’s assistant) the
cold just bothered me. My hands would be very cold and turn white then red,” Kolsrud
While she had a diagnosis, she did not have a treatment option. Told to watch
her diet and caffeine intake, Kolsrud imagined that there was no treatment for
her cold hands. Many activities like sledding and playing in the snow were restricted
do to the sensitivity in her hands.
Raynaud’s Syndrome, named after the French physician who discovered it,
is more than having cold hands and feet. It affects mainly women although anyone
can develop the condition. Triggers for the disease include the cold and stress.
Symptoms depend on the frequency, duration and severity of the blood vessel spasms.
The blood vessels in the fingers and toes go into vasospasm, which constricts
the vessels therefor limiting the blood flow.
Over time the blood vessels may thicken slightly further limiting the blood flow.
The skin may turn white due to lack of blood flow. After the spasms subside,
the skin may turn red before returning to its normal color. Symptoms include
color changes in the skin in response to the cold or stress, a numb or stinging
pain upon warming or relief of stress. In the most severe cases, blood circulation
to the fingers and toes could be permanently lost causing deformities or in worse
case scenario, an amputation might be necessary.
The majority of the people living with Raynaud’s view it as a nuisance.
“ I tended to draw back when I would have to shake hands with others,” Kolsrud
said. Her hands would be swollen and red. “It look like I’d been
out in the snow.”
Kolsrud’s sister, Maureen Berryman a resident of San Antonio, Texas, read
an article in the San Antonio Express-News about a little girl who had a new
procedure called the Micro ETS. This procedure successfully treated her
sweating hands. Berryman knew this man could help her sister.
“ As soon as I read it, I thought I’ve got to let her know,” Berryman
said. Berryman said that her sister’s condition had progressively gotten
worse over the years and she knew the pain her sister dealt with on a daily basis.
Dr. David Nielson is a cardio-thorasic surgeon who specializes in endoscopic
lung therapy on adults and children. But what Dr. Nielson is also known
for is his innovative treatment for patients with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating
of the hands and face), Raynaud’s Syndrome, facial blushing and RSD. These
syndromes are all connected to a hyperactive sympathetic nerve dysfunction. Micro-endoscopic
thoracic sympathectomy, created by Nielson, is the least invasive surgery for
people suffering from any of these ailments. This procedure has the quickest
recovery time and has a high success rate for those suffering from hyperhidrosis
and an 85- to 90 percent improvement rate for those suffering from Raynaud’s
During the procedure, Dr. Nielson makes a single incision, one-twelfth of an
inch per side, under each arm. Nielson inserts a 2mm scope, camera and micro
scissors into the incision. Nielson compares the size of his instruments to angel
hair pasta. Once Dr. Nielson identifies the sympathetic nerve, he severs it to
instantly bring warmth to the hands. The procedure
takes 30 minutes. The patient is able to leave two to four hours after the procedure.
San Antonio Bound
After doing more research and talking with Dr. Nielson’s staff, Kolsrud
decided to travel to San Antonio, Texas. She found that patients from around
the world travel to meet Dr. Nielson and undergo this unique procedure. Determined
that this was the answer to her prayers, Kolsrud boarded the plane for Texas.
During the procedure, Nielson monitored the temperature of Kolsrud’s hands
before, during and after the procedure. Dr. Nielson reported that Kolsrud’s
hand temperature increased by 7 to 8 degrees by the end of surgery.
Kolsrud is so excited about the success of her surgery that she is telling anyone
who will listen. She noticed immediately after surgery that her hands were warm.
She credited Dr. Nielson and the staff for making her feel comforted before and
after the surgery.
“ I truly knew this would work,” Kolsrud said. “I had no
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