In an effort to save lives and offer new treatment options, Corridor-based Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano is offering a new, minimally-invasive technology to treat brain aneurysms – the dangerous swelling of blood vessels in the brain that cause debilitating pain, permanent neurological damage and at times, can quickly become fatal. They are the first hospital in Collin County to offer a unique procedure that could effectively address aneurysms in less time and with fewer medications than traditional procedures.
According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, an estimated 6.5 million people in the U.S. have an unruptured brain aneurysm. A brain aneurysm rupture happens every 18 minutes, with a total of about 30,000 Americans suffering from them every year. On top of that, there are almost 500,000 deaths worldwide caused by brain aneurysms, with half the victims under 50 years old.
A brain aneurysm causes the blood vessel to bulge or balloon in size as it fills with blood and sometimes looks like a cherry hanging on a stem. The more blood that fills the brain’s weak blood vessel, or aneurysm, the higher the possibility of the aneurysm rupturing. The Woven EndoBridge Aneurysm Embolization, or WEB, is a single-device procedure designed to interrupt blood flow entering the brain aneurysm to help promote clotting and avoid ruptures. Using an X-ray camera, doctors guide a thin tub, or catheter, into the patient’s leg artery, passing through the body’s main artery – the aorta – and then to an artery supplying blood to the brain. Placing a smaller catheter inside the first one, the WEB device is inserted into the aneurysm.
“This new technology is possibly eliminating the need for a stent implant, shortening the procedure time, decreasing radiation exposure and conceivably reducing the amount of medication required after the procedure,” said James Tatum, M.D., in a recent press release. He and Thomas Madaelil, M.D., both interventional neuroradiologists on the Texas Health Plano medical staff, performed the first procedures in Collin County.
Patient Janice Ledford, a retired elementary school employee, said she was skeptical before the procedure. “The device was weird-looking when Dr. Tatum showed it to me,” Ledford said in the release. “It was about the size of a capsule, and it flowered out like a spider web in my hand.”
Leford was one of Texas Health Plano’s first neurosurgical patients to undergo the WEB procedure. Her four-millimeter aneurysm affected several vessels in her brain and had been causing debilitating headaches for years. “At times, I would scream from the pain, it was so terrible,” she said. “I would go to bed in agony and cry some nights. But this procedure put an end to all of that nonsense.”
At first Ledford was unsure of trying the new approach. “I just put my trust in God and Dr. Tatum, and now I’ll have this device in my brain for the rest of my life.”
The WEB technology also saved retired U.S. Army contractor Carl Smith. A few weeks before his procedure, the 64-year-old suffered a mild stroke. He was admitted to Texas Health Plano where a CT-scan showed a 10-millimeter aneurysm in his brain. “Mr. Smith’s aneurysm would have required the coiling method with stents, along with blood thinners, but by using the WEB device, we avoided both,” said Madaelil.
Neither Ledford nor Smith required clinical rehabilitation, and both went home less than two days after the procedure. Ledford found immediate relief from the headaches.
When brain aneurysms continue to grow and aren’t addressed through endovascular or open surgical treatment, close to 30,000 people in the U.S. end up with a ruptured brain aneurysm each year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “Thankfully, that wasn’t the outcome for Ms. Ledford and Mr. Smith,” Tatum said. “That and more was accomplished; but most importantly, they are enjoying life with family and friends, minus the anxiety and risk of death or disability from a bleeding aneurysm.”
For more information about Texas Health Plano’s customized patient care, click on neuroscience services.