05:45pm Saturday 28 March 2020

Allegheny General Hospital Introduces New Minimally-Invasive Technique for Treating Large Brain Aneurysms

Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Pipeline Embolization Device (PED) gives doctors the ability for the first time to treat the largest and most dangerous brain aneurysms using minimally invasive methods. The treatment is focused on reconstruction of the weak blood vessel housing the brain aneurysm.    

“The Pipeline Device offers a potentially life-saving option for patients with large or giant, wide-necked aneurysms, which were previously extremely difficult to treat,” said AGH neuroradiologist Andrew Ku, MD, who recently performed the first case at Allegheny and was a member of the FDA panel which reviewed and subsequently approved the PED.

It is estimated that one in 50 Americans have a brain aneurysm, an abnormal ballooning of a portion of an artery in the brain due to a weakened blood vessel wall. Large aneurysms, which are more than 10 mm in diameter, and giant aneurysms, which are more than 25 mm in diameter, are particularly challenging.  If left untreated, they can result in compression of the brain and surrounding structures or rupture resulting in hemorrhagic strokes. 


The PED is a flexible mesh tube designed to divert blood flow away from the aneurysm. The device is placed through a catheter in a blood vessel in the leg and threaded up to the brain.  Once the device is implanted across the base of an aneurysm, the PED essentially rebuilds the diseased brain artery by rerouting blood flow away from the aneurysm and along the course of the normal, reconstructed blood vessel. 


Coiling, a minimally-invasive technique in which platinum coils are used to block blood flow to aneurysms, is highly effective for the majority of aneurysms. The PED was developed to address the small percentage of aneurysms with shapes that aren’t suitable for coiling or open brain surgery.


Hospitalizations for elective surgery for cerebral aneurysms are typically short, Dr. Ku said. Both the PED and coiling generally allow patients to return home in two to three days.


The PED is the latest weapon in AGH’s arsenal for treating aneurysms. AGH is one of just a handful of hospitals in the United States which offers patients surgical repair of brain aneurysms through an incision in the eyelid, a unique minimally-invasive option that generally yields a shorter recovery period and nearly imperceptible cosmetic results.

Allegheny General opened a new 22-bed Neurosurgical ICU earlier this year and launched a Neurosciences Institute in 2009 to provide state-of-the-art surgical and inpatient care and comprehensive, multidisciplinary outpatient services for patients with brain aneurysms, hemorrhage, tumors and traumatic injuries as well as those with back and neck problems, cranial nerve disorders, dementia, dizziness and vertigo, epilepsy, headache, movement disorders, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular diseases, pain, and stroke.

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