New treatment available to aneurysm patients

Patients with brain aneurysms deemed inoperable or at high risk for surgery now may qualify for treatment with a revolutionary but simple device that greatly reduces risk of hemorrhagic stroke, according to Emory interventional neuroradiologist Robert C. Dawson III, the first physician in the region to use the device.

"Thus far we have treated 20 patients at high risk for stroke with the microcoil -- and results are promising," Dawson said. "The overwhelming majority of patients have been treated without complications and have been protected from subsequent rupture of their aneurysms."

Target Therapeutics Inc. received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration in September 1995 to market the Guglielmi Detachable Coil (GDC), the first endovascular device cleared for the treatment of patients with intracranial aneurysms considered either inoperable or at very high risk for surgery.

Until recently little could be done to treat such high-risk brain aneurysms. They can rupture, causing death or serious disability as a result of hemorrhagic stroke or can cause symptoms such as severe headaches or symptoms secondary to compression of brain structures, even when they do not rupture. Out of nearly 40,000 persons in the United States diagnosed with intracranial aneurysms each year, one quarter do not qualify for surgery.

The GDC is a soft platinum alloy microcoil that is delivered into the aneurysm site by a microcatheter. This controlled delivery of the coil is performed in the angiography suite, usually with the patient awake, thus avoiding the inherent risks of general anesthesia. The coil is detached and released into the aneurysm site by application of a very low-voltage electrical current. Once in place, the coils fill the aneurysm, isolating it from the circulation and thereby reducing the likelihood of rupture and stroke.

-- Lorri Preston

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