Weakenings in the blood vessels leading to the brain result in bulges, or aneurysms. If the aneurysm ruptures, life-threatening bleeding, known as "subarachnoid hemorrhage" could occur. Sometimes, brain aneurysms are found by diagnostic testing. These un-ruptured aneurysms require close observation and sometimes, prophylactic treatment. Ruptured aneurysms are diagnosed and treated urgently, either by surgical clipping or by endovascular coil embolization.
Endovascular coil embolization is a minimally invasive surgical technique in which very soft metallic coils made up of platinum material are positioned within the aneurysm. A small, keyhole incision is made in the groin and a plastic tube called a catheter is passed into the desired blood vessel. These tiny micro-catheters are threaded carefully under x-ray guidance and positioned within the aneurysm. Then the platinum coils are placed within the aneurysm. The coils, which fill the aneurysm, block blood flow and prevent rupture.
At the end of the procedure catheters are removed and the groin access is closed. The procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia, while monitoring the patient's heart rate, blood pressure and intracranial pressures.
Advantages of coil embolization include eliminating the necessity of open surgery on the brain, and therefore a shorter recovery period. Your team of physicians, including a neurosurgeon and a neurointerventionalist, carefully reviews each patient's case and makes a recommendation about the appropriate type of treatment – either open surgery or neurointerventional technique – to help you and your family make that decision.
(See Endovascular embolization, Cerebral aneurysms, Arteriovenous malformation (AVM), Repairing brain aneurysms)