Less invasive procedure for brain aneurysms

By: Allison Kropff Email
By: Allison Kropff Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - She was at work when symptoms hit. A headache like no other. An aneurysm ruptured in her brain. If this happens, you have a 40 % chance of surviving.

But doctors at Mayo Clinic performed a surgical procedure that saved the life of the woman you're about to meet. All without brain surgery.

Washing old Blue may seem like ho-hum chore to some, but to Susan Landmark it's a precious gift.

"They all told me I was very lucky."

Lucky to be alive after an aneurysm ruptured in her brain.

"I started to get a severe headache. The next thing I know I woke up in the ambulance."

A near death event that Susan barely remembers.

"Dr. Hanel kept going, This close, you came this close. Right there? That's the aneurysm."

Dr. Ricardo Hanel says this aneurysm is similar to the one Susan had.

"An aneurysm is what we describe as a blister on a vessel wall."

And if it ruptures, you need treatment fast. The standard procedure means open brain surgery. But for Susan, Dr. Hanel used another, much less invasive technique. No scalpels and clamps, just wire coils.

"The coil is nothing more than a wire, a platinum wire that you can detach and leave behind inside the aneurysm."

During the procedure Dr. Hanel inserts a catheter and guides it to the site of the aneurysm. Once there he runs the coil to that site and fills it like a bird's nest. The patient's blood clots onto the coil and prevents new bleeding.

"It is extremely effective and very safe for patients."

And much easier on the patients than standard brain surgery.

"I still can't believe it happened to me." And now Susan savors every moment with her family. Every moment of her life.

Dr. Hanel says while this procedure is a good option for many patients, it may not work for everyone. Some aneurysms are best treated with open surgery.

Again, getting treatment fast is key for surviving a ruptured aneurysm.


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