Catheter technique is less invasive and risky than traditional brain surgery that involves cutting a large opening in the skull, according to new generation of neuroscientists.
Neuroscientists these days are increasingly using catheter technique to repair aneurysms, open clogged arteries, extract blood clots, and repair blood vessel malformations in the brain.
The technique is also used to opens blocked carotid arteries in the neck.
Dr. John Whapham, at the Loyola University Health System, is one such neurologist to have used the technique to remove aneurysm by inserting a catheter (thin tube) in an artery in the patient's leg leading to the brain.
The catheter then releases tiny platinum coils into the bulging aneurysm, and effectively seals it off.
Catheter technology, originally developed for heart surgery, has been modified for narrower and more challenging blood vessels in the brain.
"There has been a huge evolution in devices over the last five years," said Whapham.
Traditional open-brain surgery to repair aneurysms is highly invasive, and recovery can take months.
Many patients end up with cognitive deficits that can make it impossible for them to do complex jobs.
Between 80 and 90 percent of brain aneurysms can be repaired with less-invasive catheters.
Tiny coils of platinum wire are passed through the catheter, and released into the bulging aneurysm. The aneurysm fills up with coils, causing the blood to clot.
"It's like filling a bathtub with concrete," said Whapham.
In a landmark clinical trial, known as ISAT, aneurysm patients were randomly assigned to receive either open brain surgery or catheter surgery.
It was found that the catheter group had significantly lower rates of death and disability.