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New Treatment For Ruptured Aneurysm Survivors

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — New treatments for survivors of brain aneurysms are becoming more widely used in the Triangle.

Jodi Sloan almost died from a ruptured aneurysm.

"I had a really bad headache," Sloan said, "And then I just passed out."

Sloan said that, when doctors told her she had a brain aneurysm, her first thought was the high number of fatalities. Half of the people with ruptured aneurysms die, according to doctors.

"If it bleeds, it can be fatal," said Dr. Estrada Bernard, chief of neurological surgery at the

University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill

. "A certain percentage of people don't even survive to be evaluated."

For survivors, emergency surgery usually is needed to get rid of an aneurysm. Doctors at UNC are beginning to perform a new procedure, called coil embolization.

Coil therapy reportedly is popular in Europe, but only recently has been performed in the U.S.

During the procedure, doctors use a catheter to thread a coil through the leg, into an artery and up to the aneurysm.

Doctors try to block the blood path into the aneurysm.

"If there's no blood flow going into the aneurysm, there's a minimal risk of bleeding," said Dr. Sten Solander, chief of internal neuroradiology at UNC.

There are fewer fatalities and disability among patients that have the coil embolization procedure, according to a recent study.

Sloan had the coil embolization procedure on her aneurysm.

"There is no blood flow coming into the aneurysm," said Solander.

Said Sloan: "I believe I have about six feet of coils around my aneurysm."

Doctors said Sloan's aneurysm will never go away, but it should not cause problems again.

"I'm very lucky," Sloan said.