3D Images of Brain Aneurysms Save Lives

Breaking local medical news today that may save many lives. UCLA is working on a three-dimensional way to see brain aneurysms so they can be cured before the lead to life threatening hemorrhages.
Dr. Bruce Hensel reported.

Despite a small aneurysm in her brain - a weakness in a blood vessel that could cause a life threatening brain hemmorhage at any time, Christine Pitcher lives her life normally. 

"It's a good idea to keep things under control. But I'm not - i don't worry about it too much," Pitcher said. 

Six years ago, doctors plugged the bulging blood vessel with soft coils to keep blood out and prevent a rupture. But the coils are starting to slip. 

Because two dimensional images make it difficult to track small aneurysms, doctors at UCLA use a special computer program to view them in 3D. 

"Having 3d, we can detect even subtle change in the shape of the aneurysm," Dr. Satoshi Tateshima said. 

Besides its shape, doctors can see the speed and direction of the blood flow, whether rushing through the ballooning aneurysm, or slamming into it's side and recoiling. 

"Once it hits aneurysm wall, which is a weakened portion, it may create further degeneration or further damage to that aneurysm wall and it may eventually rupture," Tateshima said. 

The information helps doctors determine how best to treat the aneurysm. In Christine's case, they inserted new coils and a stent to keep them in place. 

Doctors will take another 3D look at Christine's artery in about six months. For now, her life is, once again, pretty much back to normal.

"Otherwise she might need potentially risky brain surgery. The 3D tests tells us when we can avoid or postpone that. UCLA is one of only two medical centers in the u-s using the 3D computer software for brain aneurysms," Dr. Hensel said.

About 6 million people in the U.S. have a brain aneurysm.
Each year, about 25,000 to 30,000 Americans have a ruptured aneurysm.
40 percent of those with an aneurysm rupture die.
Doctors at UCLA are using 3D technology to get a better picture of brain aneurysms and access the risk of rupture.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.

For information about brain aneurysms and treatment:
American Association of Neurological Surgeons, http://www.aans.org
American Stroke Association, http://www.strokeassociation.org
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation, http://www.bafound.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, http://www.ninds.nih.gov

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