A new minimally invasive procedure available at Memorial Medical Center offers an alternative to open brain surgery for patients with large aneurysms.
Dr. Augusto Elias, a neurointerventional radiologist with Clinical Radiologists, S.C., who leads the neurointerventional team in Memorial Medical Center’s Stroke Center, has been trained to perform the procedure, known as a pipeline stent.
Dr. Elias is one of only 10 physicians in Illinois who is trained to perform this procedure.
A brain aneurysm is a weakness in the wall of an artery or vein that causes a portion of the vessel to become enlarged.
Some aneurysms are small and can be treated either by filling them up with coils inserted through a catheter in a minimally invasive procedure or through neurosurgery that opens the skull, clamping them off with clips.
For bigger and wider aneurysms, the FDA approved in 2011 a device called the Pipeline Embolization Device, a flexible mesh tube that is delivered through a catheter, inserted into an artery in the leg and threaded to the area of the brain where the aneurysm is located.
The pipeline stent is expanded against the walls of the artery and across the neck of the aneurysm diverting blood flow from it, which reduces pressure on the brain and gradually shrinks the aneurysm.
“The pipeline stent applies to a small base of patients with very large or ‘giant’ aneurysms,” Elias said. “These patients are not candidates for coiling, and many are at high risk for open surgical intervention.”
Elias performed the first pipeline stent procedure in the region at Memorial Medical Center.
For those who are candidates for the innovative procedure, the advantages are shortened recovery times and reduced morbidity. Patients can go home 48 hours after the procedure, Elias said.
An estimated 6 million people –about one in 50 – in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. A brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes, and about 40 percent are fatal.