MedWatch Today: A Minimally Invasive Treatment for Brain Aneurysms

Med Watch Today

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – The Brain Aneurysm Foundation reports that an estimated 6.5 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel–that’s 1 in 50 people. Community Medical Centers is the first in the valley, implementing a new minimally invasive treatment to prevent patients’ aneurysms from rupturing and bleeding into the brain.

Dr. Amir Khan, a Vascular and Interventional Neurologist and the Co-Director of the Stroke Program at Community Regional Medical Center says, “An aneurism is actually a defect with one of the arteries, in this case, an artery in the brain.  It represents a weak area and that can be prone to bleeding which can lead to a dangerous kind of bleeding stroke.”

About 30,000 people in the United States suffer a brain aneurysm rupture each year.  Every 18 minutes, a patient suffers a rupture.

“So the WEB is a device that we can actually use to implant into the inside of the aneurism to shut it down.”

The Woven Endobridge Aneurysm Embolization system or WEB device is a self-expanding mesh ball that’s implanted at the base of the aneurysm.  It causes clotting and prevents more blood from entering the bulge, preventing a rupture in the brain.

“So, it’s made out of these metal wires, there’s different sizes, so we can select the web device that’s appropriate for someone’s specific aneurysm and then it’s placed into the aneurysm during the surgery. There’s two forms, there’s a cylinder and then there’s a sphere.  This is a wire braid system that is implanted into the aneurysm itself.”

The structure of an aneurysm has two important portions. The neck, connecting to the artery, and a sack, or dome, of the aneurysm which is a sort of bulge coming away from the artery.  

“The difficulty that we encounter in a lot of people is that the neck is wide.  Other procedures that we do from a minimally invasive standpoint to place things into the aneurysm — those things can be defeated because then those devices can then come out.  Because the connection or the neck connecting the aneurysm to the artery is very wide.”

Dr. Khan says the web device increases the amount of people who are eligible to get treated for certain types of brain aneurysms–meaning fewer people are at risk for rupture.

“The WEB device is potentially usable in a wide variety of patients with aneurysms.  A lot of that is going to depend on the actual anatomy, on the structure of that particular person’s aneurysm which they’re not going to know, of course, until they get imaging and seek evaluation by someone like myself or similar specialist about what the aneurysm looks like and what would be the most appropriate treatment.”

With the WEB device treatment, aneurysms that previously needed the patient to undergo open brain surgery, now can be treated in this minimally invasive approach.  

“And additionally there are aneurysms that were probably not operable at all that can now be treated this way.  So, I think it’s just a very exciting new technology–it’s another tool in our tool kit that we can use to treat brain aneurysms that wasn’t there previously.  And I think the important thing is that it’s going to allow people to have now the option of a minimally invasive aneurysm treatment for people that didn’t have that option previously.”

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