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St. John Hospital 1st in State to Offer Revolutionary Treatment for Complex Brain Aneurysms

St. John Hospital & Medical Center: Detroit
Brain and Head, Neuroscience
Wednesday, September 07, 2011

St. John Hospital 1st in State to Offer Revolutionary Treatment for Complex Brain Aneurysms

Contact: Brian Taylor, 586-753-0726.

Detroit, Mich. – Doctors at St. John Hospital and Medical Center are now using a revolutionary new treatment for patients suffering from complex large brain aneurysms. The first patient in Michigan was recently treated at SJH&MC using what’s known as the Pipeline Embolization Device.

Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Pipeline Embolization Device is a stent-like device that makes it possible for physicians to treat large or giant, wide-necked aneurysms, the most complex and dangerous brain aneurysms, using minimally invasive techniques.

“This is a major breakthrough for patients,” says Richard Fessler, M.D., endovascular neurosurgeon at SJH&MC, who performed the state’s first case. “Until now there really has not been a good treatment option for those with larger aneurysms. There is no question that this device will help save lives.”

Pipeline Embolization DeviceThe PED is different than a typical stent, which is designed to prop open blood vessels. The PED is designed with a smaller opening that prevents blood from flowing through it making it effective in treating large aneurysms. Once implanted across the neck of an aneurysm, the PED diverts blood flow away from the aneurysm, reducing the outward pressure on the vessel walls and preventing a life-threatening rupture. With PED, most patients go home the next day after their procedure and can return to normal activities in a matter of days. In addition, the stent’s tightly meshed design allows blood to seep into the smaller vessels that branch off from the defective one, enhancing blood flow in the brain.

Pipeline Embolization DeviceBefore the development of the PED, doctor’s only non surgical option was to attempt to block blood flow into the aneurysm and prevent a rupture with platinum coils or a liquid embolic agent. While this procedure is effective for smaller aneurysms, filling aneurysms with coils or liquid embolic agents has shown to have very limited success in treating larger aneurysms.

The other option is to open up the skull and stop blood flow to the aneurysm with a clip. But this treatment is only possible if the aneurysm is in an area where it can be reached. This type of surgery requires four to six weeks of recuperation.

Pipeline Embolization DeviceA cerebral aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain, characterized by abnormal ballooning of the vessel. When a brain aneurysm ruptures 40 percent of patients die and about 66 percent suffer some permanent neurological damage. It is estimated that one in 50 Americans have a brain aneurysm.

The St. John Providence Health System’s Van Elslander Neuroscience Center of Excellence is home to one of the nation's leading multidisciplinary neuroscience teams. SJPHS offers one of the most comprehensive programs in the region, featuring world-renowned specialists who perform advanced procedures from minimally invasive spine procedures to endoscopic skull base surgery.