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Your Health: 'Pipeline' for brain aneurysms
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An aneurysm is kind of like a balloon attached to an artery. When the bulge inside the brain grows, it becomes more deadly.
“Balloons, you know the walls are thin, you fill the balloon up too much, the balloon can burst,” Dr. James Waldron with the Neuro Texas Institute at St. David's said.
Most aneurysms are treated with traditional surgery, which can include blocking the carotid artery. It’s a dangerous option the bigger the bulge gets.
However, there is a tiny but powerful tool called the Pipeline Immobilization Device, which is made of mesh and Taylor-made for really big aneurysms.
“You lay the stent over the neck of this very wide aneurysm, and diverts blood flow, so the blood no longer flows into the aneurysm.”
The tiny stent snakes its way close to the aneurysm as it redirects the blood. St. David's is the first in Central Texas to use the device. Dr. Waldron recently treated a patient with an aneurysm so big it affected her vision.
After the stent is taken out, the body takes over and the aneurysm shrinks.
Dr. Waldron says of the 2 to 4 percent of the population with aneurysms, less than six percent have aneurysms that require the pipeline stent.