CNN - DR. SANJAY GUPTA
Soledad O'Brien: In our House Call this morning, can you imagine having a facial twitch that lasts for years. Sanjay Gupta has a story this morning of a man whose life was literally ruined and the doctor who saved him. Here's our story.
Dean Ti: Go...go...
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Most of us have had a facial spasm before, something that lasts two or three minutes. Try three years. That's how long Dean Ti lived with a twitch.
Dean Ti: I was thinking...always thinking what's wrong with me? What should I do? How can I cure myself? But, never have a solution.
Dr. Gupta: The persistent pulsating affecting his left eye and cheek was almost constant. It was interfering with every aspect of his daily life.
Dean Ti: When I sleep, I can hear the spasm in my ear. I can hear its pounding, like boom, boom, boom. I will wake up, maybe four or five times in the night, just suddenly sleeping, then hear the pounding.
Dr. Gupta: The throbbing also made it hard for him to see out of his left eye. Socially and professionally, it was a nightmare.
Dean Ti: It's so difficult...suddenly...the person you talking...in that focuses on your eyes. It feels so uncomfortable that you don't want to see people.
Dr. Gupta: He visited a neurologist, ophthalmologist, acupuncturist, even tried botox to numb the muscles, but nothing worked and no one could diagnose the problem - until he met Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, a neurosurgeon.
Dr. Shahinian: When I saw...a...Dean for the first time...um...the diagnosis was made virtually instantly.
Dr. Gupta: It's called hemifacial spasm. It's a rare condition affecting less than 1% of the population. A blood vessel was touching two nerves in Dean's brain, making the facial muscles constantly react with each throb of the artery.
Dr. Shahinian: Normally, this should be sort of akin to a trunk and two legs; that is, you have the trunk in the middle and the two legs on each side. On the left side, unlike the right side, you can see a blood vessel that is trapped underneath the nerve.
Dr. Gupta: After making a dime-size incision in the skull, Dr. Shahinian's team placed a tiny Teflon disk between the nerve and the blood vessel, disconnecting the two from each other.
Dean Ti: What a day.
Dr. Gupta: A day, after his five-hour operation, Dean went home, twitch-free.
Dean Ti: It's a miracle. My new face is coming back. Ah...the old face I had is gone.
Dr. Gupta: Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN reporting.