About Cerebral Aneurysm Embolization
An aneurysm is an area of weakening and bulging in an artery.
Blood vessels in the brain are particularly prone to aneurysm formation. As an aneurysm grows, its potential to cause significant side effects and/or rupture increases. When an aneurysm ruptures, the result may be a life-threatening stroke. Symptoms of a brain aneurysm may include paralysis, headaches, nausea, impaired vision, and vomiting. However, some patients do not experience any symptoms.
About the Process of Aneurysm Embolization
With coil embolization, an interventional neuroradiologist guides a long tube called a catheter through a small incision in the groin up to the location of the aneurysm. Through the catheter, the radiologist places many soft platinum coils into the aneurysm. The coils are extremely small and soft. The body develops a blood clot around the coils. The packed coils and the blood clot effectively prevent blood from entering the aneurysm, essentially eliminating the risk of the aneurysm rupturing.
A stent, which is a small mesh tube, may also be used in this procedure if the neck of the aneurysm is wide. The stent covers the neck of the aneurysm and helps to hold the coils in place. This method of stent placement before coil placement allows for the treatment of certain aneurysms that were previously considered untreatable. In other cases a balloon may temporarily be inflated at the neck of the aneurysm to help hold coils inside the aneurysm.
Aneurysm embolization (coiling) may be performed as a preventive measure in people with an unruptured aneurysm. It may also be done in patients whose aneurysm has ruptured. It is frequently an alternative to surgery when surgical treatment is considered high risk.
Aneurysm Embolization versus Surgery
Until recently, surgical clipping was traditionally the method used to repair aneurysms in the brain. With surgical clipping, the skull is cut open and the aneurysm exposed. A clip is then placed at the neck of the aneurysm.
In 1995 the FDA approved the use of coils to embolize (block off) an aneurysm (termed “coiling”). This procedure offers a minimally-invasive method of treating both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms.
Not every patient is a suitable candidate for aneurysm embolization. When both treatments are considered reasonable (surgical clipping or coiling), your interventional neuroradiologist and neurosurgeon will discuss your case and determine which treatment is better for you.
Consultations for preventative aneurysm embolizations are done at RIA Neurovascular.
The procedure is performed at the following Radiology Imaging Associates partner hospitals in the Denver, Colorado area:
- Exempla Lutheran Hospital
- Littleton Adventist Hospital
- Medical Center of Aurora
- Swedish Medical Center
Conditions to Let Us Know About
When you have your consultation for an aneurysm embolization, let the radiologist or nurse know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:
- Currently pregnant or nursing
- Previous reaction to iodine or contrast material
- Renal disease
- Asthma with inhaler use 2 times or more per day