YOUR HEALTH: A new way to prevent strokes

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Kristine Meyer is a busy mother of two.   But two years ago, her doctor uncovered something nobody expected.

"The doctor at the time had sent me for an MRI. And it was in the MRI findings, from that, that they found the aneurysm," she explained.

Scans showed the aneurysm was two and a half inches behind her nose and right eye.

"I did not have a lot of options because of the location."

  • Aneurysms can develop slowly over many years and may often have no symptoms
  • One occurring near the surface of the skin may be painful and include swelling with a visible throbbing mass
  • If one expands very rapidly or ruptures, symptoms may come on suddenly and include clammy skin, dizziness, pain, nausea and vomiting, shock, rapid heart rate, and low blood pressure

Neurovascular surgeon Ricardo Hanel thought Kristine would be a good candidate for a minimally-invasive procedure, being tested for the first time on small and medium hard-to-reach aneurysms.

It's called the Pipeline Embolism device.   Surgeons thread a tiny catheter through the groin or wrist.

"So through that tube I can feed this little mesh and very carefully push the mesh to get on the contour of the vessel," explained Dr. Hanel, from Baptist Health Jacksonville.

The pipeline diverts blood flow away from the aneurysm, allowing the vessel to heal without an invasive brain surgery.

"Once you close the aneurysm you can nicely tell the patient, you're cured."

"So once you close the aneurysm you can nicely tell the patient, you're cured," explained Dr. Hanel.

"Not having that constant fear and worry is the most amazing thing," said Kristine.

Another amazing thing: the speed of recovery.   Kristine was home the day after the procedure and back to work within two weeks.

Researchers tested 140 patients at 22 sites in the U.S. and Canada to see if the pipeline would be effective on small aneurysms.

The study found a high rate of aneurysms were completely healed at the one-year follow-up.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Flow diversion therapy with the Pipeline Embolization Device which was previously only used in the treatment of larger aneurysms, has now shown proven high rates of success in treatment of small and medium-sized intracranial aneurysms. This is the first of it`s kind to address the flow diverter for small and medium wide-neck aneurysms. The PREMIER prospective trial treated 141 patients with unruptured, intracranial aneurysms successfully; these aneurysms were all 12mm or less. In a Pipeline procedure, no contact is made with the aneurysm. A mesh stent is placed into the artery at the site of the aneurysm through a catheter guided into the femoral artery through the groin. The mesh directs blood flow normally through the artery instead of into the aneurysm, allowing it to over time heal as blood no longer enters the aneurysm and the body`s natural healing process works.
(Sources: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/876125 and http://www.neurosurgeonsofnewjersey.com/aneurysm-pipeline-procedure/)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.