Stopping Brain Aneurysms Without Surgery

Procedure used to treat weaknesses in arterial walls

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THURSDAY, June 19, 2003 (HealthDayNews) --A procedure called detachable coil embolization offers a new, nonsurgical approach to treating brain aneurysms, or weakness in the arterial wall.

With this method, radiologists are able to isolate and block weakened brain blood vessels that are in danger of rupturing and causing stroke or death, says Dr. Jacques Dion, a professor of radiology and neurosurgery and head of interventional radiology at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Coils are delivered through an intra-arterial catheter and packed into the aneurysm to block blood flow to the affected area, preventing rupture of the blood vessel. The coils are made of soft, delicate surgical material.

The procedure takes a couple of hours, followed by an overnight stay in the neurointensive care unit. Detachable coil embolization is now used to treat more than 30 percent of cerebral aneurysms in the United States.

"Coiling is less invasive and requires significantly less recovery time than brain surgery for aneurysm repair," Dion says in a news release. He spoke on the topic June 19 at a Radiological Society of North America media briefing on image-guided therapies in New York City.

Brain aneurysms affect 2 percent to 5 percent of people in the United States. It's believed they are congenital and develop over time in a weak spot in a brain blood vessel. Half of aneurysm ruptures result in death. Of those who survive, about half have some form of stroke or neurological deficit.

Large, non-ruptured aneurysms can compress surrounding nerves and tissues, causing symptoms such as headaches and possibly paralysis. Smaller, non-ruptured aneurysms often cause no symptoms until they hemorrhage.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about aneurysms.

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, June 19, 2003

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