For neurosurgeons, the challenge is to catch an aneurysm before it bursts. The first step begins with neurological testing to determine a precise diagnosis.
The diagnostic tests available at UT Southwestern Medical Center include:
- Computerized tomography (CT)
- CT scan that produces 2-D image slices of the brain. An injection of a dye helps to observe blood flow and may indicate the site of a ruptured aneurysm.
- Cerebrospinal fluid test
- Procedure uses a needle to draw cerebrospinal fluid from your back to check for red blood cells.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- An MRI produces detailed 2-D or 3-D images of the brain. An injection of a dye helps to observe blood flow and may indicate the site of a ruptured aneurysm.
- Cerebral angiogram
- A catheter is inserted into a large artery and is threaded to the arteries in the brain. A special dye injected into the catheter travels to the arteries throughout the brain. X-ray images can then reveal details about the conditions of the arteries and the site of a ruptured aneurysm.
Neurological surgeons at UT Southwestern have performed more pre-emptive surgeries to prevent aneurysm-induced stroke than any medical center – more than 2,500 over the last decade.
Once a ruptured brain aneurysm has been determined, there are two common treatment options.
The options include:
- Surgical clipping
- Procedure to close off an aneurysm. A tiny metal clip is placed on the neck of the aneurysm to stop blood flow to it.
- Minimally invasive endovascular coiling
- One of the most frequently used treatments for cerebral aneurysms. The surgeon inserts a catheter into an artery and threads it through your body to the aneurysm. A soft platinum wire is then pushed through the catheter and into the aneurysm, causing the aneurysm to become clotted, preventing rupture.
In cases of ischemic stroke, UT Southwestern physicians can administer a fast-acting drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, directly to the site of the clot by using a technique called intra-arterial thrombolysis.
Another technique performed by our neurosurgeons is an intricate procedure known as stroke bypass surgery. The labor-intensive microsurgery involves taking a blood vessel or vein from an area that gets a high volume of blood flow, such as the the leg, and sewing it into another blood vessel or artery that carries blood directly to the brain.
Extracranial-to-intracranial bypass surgery is performed at only a few major U.S. medical centers. UT Southwestern neurosurgeons perform the intricate procedure about 25 times a year, with patient referrals from around the country.
At UT Southwestern, our caring neurologists and a neurosurgeons can help you determine the treatment that is appropriate for you.