Helping Brains Stay Cool During Surgery

New system prevents swelling, damage during aneurysm procedure

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FRIDAY, July 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Having the brain "chill out" during aneurysm surgery may help prevent brain damage due to swelling, say surgeons who are testing a new technology.

The new method, called the ChillerStrip System, uses a pumping unit to send cooled fluids to silicon strips that are attached to the retractors neurosurgeons use to spread brain tissue.

This system cools local areas of the brain to about 63 degrees Fahrenheit during surgery. Brain temperature returns to normal after surgery.

During brain surgery, a normal swelling of brain tissue within the confines of the skull can lead to permanent or fatal damage to the patient. "The idea of cooling is to diminish the metabolic demands of the brain. By reducing metabolic demand, you've reduced the need for blood," Rush University Medical Center endovascular surgeon Dr. Demetrious Lopes explained in a prepared statement.

Normally, the brain consumes 20 percent of the body's oxygen requirements and 15 percent of the heart's cardiac output to function properly.

An aneurysm is a swelling or ballooning of part of the wall of a vein or artery. A burst aneurysm can cause serious brain damage or death. Aneurysm can be an inherited disorder or it can be caused by conditions such as high blood pressure, arterial disease or trauma.

The technology is being employed at Rush and four other medical centers in the United States.

More information

Learn more about aneurysms from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

SOURCE: Rush University Medical Center news release, June 2004

- Robert Preidt

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