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Cerebrovascular Care

Call for more information: (423) 206-9480

CHI Memorial Neuroscience Institute offers minimally invasive approaches to treating vascular diseases of the brain and spine including brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformation (AVMs), arteriovenous fistula, carotid stenosis, and stroke. Using catheter-based, image-guided systems to treat these complicated and often life-threatening health conditions, neurointerventional treatment is a much less invasive alternative to open surgery. 

What is brain aneurysm?

A brain or cerebral aneurysm occurs when the weakened wall of a blood vessel balloons or bulges out. This weakening can be caused by trauma, infection or plaque buildup. Brain aneurysms can leak or rupture, causing bleeding in the brain – sometimes requiring emergent, lifesaving treatment. Unruptured brain aneurysms are sometimes found when imaging tests are performed for other reasons, requiring treatment to prevent a rupture in the future. 

Risks & symptoms

Just like other conditions of the heart and vascular system, the risk factors for brain aneurysm include age, a strong family history, high blood pressure and smoking. Women and people of color also have an increased risk of ruptured aneurysms. 

Although not everyone with a brain aneurysm will experience symptoms, they may include: 

  • Numbness and weakness
  • Facial paralysis 
  • Double vision or vision changes
  • Seizures
  • Severe headaches 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Pain behind and above the eye 
  • Loss of consciousness 

Ruptured aneurysm treatment

When an aneurysm bursts, it releases blood into the space between the brain and skull, irritating the brain’s lining and damaging brain cells. The brain is also deprived of oxygen-rich blood, resulting in a stroke. 

Emergency surgical treatment for a rupture aneurysm may require microsurgical clipping, where a small clip is placed across the neck of an aneurysm to block normal blood flow. Another option is endovascular coiling, a catheter-based treatment that prevents blood flow into the aneurysm. 

When an artery is large, inaccessible or it is too damaged, bypass surgery may be needed. During the procedure, clips are used to completely block the artery and aneurysm while blood flow is rerouted around the blocked artery and into a nearby artery so blood can flow freely. 

CHI Memorial offers aneurysm, tumor and arteriovenous shunting embolization.

Treatment for arteriovenous malformation

Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a congenital defect of the vascular system that causes a tangle of abnormal blood vessels to impact blood flow from the heart to other areas of the body. When AVMs occur in the brain, they cause the brain to bypass normal tissue and divert blood from the arteries to the veins. 

Brain and spinal AVMs can occur anywhere within the brain or on its covering and present substantial risks when they bleed. These include bleeding in the brain, stroke or brain damage. Most people do not know they have an AVM until a medical emergency occurs or it’s identified by a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan.  

The most common treatment for AVM is surgery to remove the AVM or close off the blood vessels that feed it. This can be done through microsurgical techniques, radiosurgery or endovascular embolization.  

Atherosclerosis treatment

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries, leading to a narrowing or blockage of blood flow. When this occurs in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain, it can cause a stroke or other neurological symptoms.  Cerebrovascular surgery can be used to remove the blockage or bypass it with a graft or another blood vessel. One type of surgery for atherosclerosis in the brain is called carotid endarterectomy (CEA). CEA involves removing the plaque buildup from the carotid artery, which is the main artery that supplies blood to the brain.

For more information about cerebrovascular care at CHI Memorial Neuroscience Institute, call (423) 206-9480.