Endovascular procedures are minimally invasive techniques that can be applied to neurological problems. The ability to minimize open surgeries can provide some patients with similar outcomes while reducing post-procedure pain and decreasing healing time.
Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke, and it occurs when there is a blockage in the blood vessels of the brain. When a stroke is diagnosed promptly, there are more options available to potentially reduce the risk of long-term disability and reverse the effects of the stroke. One technique involves the administration of thrombolytic agents to dissolve the clot. The clot-dissolving agents are injected at the site of the clot. When the procedure is successful, blood flow is restored to the affected region of the brain. Thrombolytic agents carry the risk of bleeding and must be administered within a few hours after the symptoms of stroke begin; otherwise the procedure may not be effective.
Aneurysms occur when there is a weakened area in a blood vessel within the brain. The pressure of the blood flowing past the weakened area causes the blood vessel to balloon out in the affected area. In some instances, an aneurysm is found before it ruptures and the opportunity for treatment is greatly increased. When an aneurysm is deemed high-risk for rupture and is in an area that is accessible via endovascular techniques, the aneurysm may be treated with coiling. Endovascular coiling involves threading a coil up to the aneurysm from the groin area. The coil is inserted into the weakened area to prevent blood from flowing into that portion of the blood vessel. When successful, the weakened area is essentially blocked from receiving blood flow, thereby stopping the risk of aneurysm rupture in that area.
Techniques similar to those used to help diagnose and treat cardiovascular problems are also used in neurosurgery. A cerebral angiography is a diagnostic test that is used to observe blood flow within the brain. The test can reveal blockages or areas where blood flow is reduced due to narrowing of blood vessels. If a problem is detected, one of several endovascular procedures might be an option for treatment. When stenosis (narrowing) is detected in the carotid artery, angioplasty may be done to restore normal blood flow to the brain. Much like similar procedures, a small balloon can be guided to the area of stenosis and used to widen the area. Typically a stent is also placed to prevent the area from narrowing again.
Several endovascular procedures can be used to treat some of the most challenging neurological problems. The opportunity to have a minimally invasive procedure can reduce risks associated with a traditional open procedure and speed recovery. Contact a doctor to learn more about endovascular neurology.