As many as five million Americans have a brain aneurysm; a weakened, enlarged section of blood vessel in the brain, and because there are often no symptoms, many people don’t know they have them until it is too late. Researchers are now testing a minimally-invasive treatment that eliminates the deadly risk of the aneurysm bleeding or bursting.
Kristine Meyer is a busy mother of two. But two years ago, her doctor uncovered something nobody expected.
“The doctor at the time sent me for an MRI and it was in the MRI findings from that they found the aneurysm.” Meyer said.
Scans showed the aneurysm was two and a half inches behind her nose and right eye.
Meyer continued, “I did not have a lot of options because of the location.”
Neurosurgeon Ricardo Hanel thought Kristine would be a good candidate for a minimally invasive procedure, being tested for the first time on small and medium hard-to-reach aneurysms. It’s called the Pipeline embolism device. Surgeons thread a tiny catheter through the groin or wrist.
“So through that tube I can feed the mesh and carefully push the mesh onto the contour of the vessel.” Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, a neurovascular surgeon at Baptist Health Jacksonville explained.
The pipeline diverts blood flow away from the aneurysm, allowing the vessel to heal without an invasive brain surgery.
“So once you close the aneurysm you can nicely tell the patient, you’re cured.” Dr. Hanel stated.
“Not having that constant fear and worry is the most amazing thing.” Meyer said.
Kristine Meyer was home the day after the procedure and back to work within two weeks. Researchers tested 140 patients at 22 sites in the US and Canada to see if the Pipeline would be effective on small aneurysms. The study found a high rate of aneurysms were completely healed at the one-year follow-up.