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Complete Spectrum of Aneurysm Treatments Benefits Patients

According to the American Stroke Associa­tion, about 3 million to 5 million people in the United States have cerebral aneurysms. Many will not experience noticeable prob­lems—unless a rupture occurs.

“When someone presents with aneurysm, a range of options is available to provide a treat­ment that lets the patient continue living the life they want. Because of UT Southwestern’s collaborative approach to care—which includes neurosurgeons, neurologists, and neurora­diologists—our team is uniquely equipped to determine if surgery, coil embolization, or observation will achieve the best outcomes,” says Babu G. Welch, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery.

UT Southwestern treats more aneurysms than any other facility in North Texas and has pioneered some of the major advancements in the field. The cerebrovascular specialists at UT Southwestern are one of the few teams in Texas where every physician is capable of caring for the patient before and after a procedure is performed. The neurological surgery team is available for second opinions and referrals.

“Even our radiologists trained to be neu­rologists first. Our specialists understand and are comfortable with the full spectrum of aneurysm treatments, which can minimize neurological risks, as well as reduce recovery times,” Dr. Welch says.

Recently, a team that included Dr. Welch and Duke Samson, M.D., Professor and Chair of Neurological Surgery, evaluated and treated a 35-year-old Plano mother. The first sign of the problem was a sharp pain behind her right eye. The pain was so severe she went to an emergency room. She was subsequently diagnosed with a 10 mm aneurysm pressing on her optic nerve.

At her first evaluation, a neurosurgeon elsewhere recommended a craniotomy, which would have required a hospital stay of about four days with four to six weeks of recovery. As part of a second opinion, Dr. Samson and Dr. Welch suggested coil embolization, an endovascular approach to her aneurysm. A catheter was placed through the patient’s groin and then, from her aorta, into her aneu­rysm. The aneurysm was then successfully packed with very fine platinum coils, and a fine, metal stent was necessary to keep the coils in place.

“The patient was released from UT Southwestern the day after her surgery,” Dr. Welch says. “She was back to everyday tasks within a week.”