Health Team

New procedure offers less invasive fix for aneurysms

Posted October 3, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2011 7:05 p.m. EDT

WRAL Health Team

Brain aneurysms are bulging weak areas in the walls of arteries that supply blood to the brain.

For many, brain aneurysms are minor and go unnoticed. But for a select few, a brain aneurysm is like a ticking time bomb.

If an aneurysm is not discovered or treated, it can rupture, causing a stroke or even death.

Duke University Hospital is now offering a less invasive treatment for one type of aneurysm, and for 71-year-old Phyllis Siegel, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Siegel had a cavernous sinus aneurysm, which presses on nerves that control eye movement and causes double vision. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis.

“I had a mass in my head,” Siegel said. “But the good news was that it was not a brain tumor, but it was an aneurysm.”

Rather than having to undergo brain surgery, which is the normal solution for Siegel’s particular type of aneurysm, she underwent a new procedure that places a mesh stent in a position to prevent blood flow to the aneurysm.

Dr. Gavin Britz, a neurosurgeon at Duke Hospital, said the new procedure shrinks the aneurysm over time. Britz used a catheter through a major artery in Siegel’s leg to find the impacted artery near the base of the brain.

The less invasive approach should return Siegel’s vision to normal in about three weeks and allowed her to go through with travel plans she had made well before the aneurysm was discovered.

Duke Hospital is one of only a few centers in the country to offer this particular aneurysm treatment option and has now performed two pipeline stent treat procedures.

Britz first learned how to perform the stent procedure at a hospital in Buffalo, New York.