You may never even know you are sick, until one day, you develop a sudden, debilitating headache. You may also experience dizziness, nausea or double vision if you suffer from a rare but extremely serious brain aneurysm.
Brain aneurysms are sometimes called "silent killers" because many people never know they have the condition until the weakened blood vessel hemorrhages, causing bleeding in the brain. Nearly half of patients who experience a ruptured brain aneurysm die, making it the third leading cause of death.
When doctors identify an aneurysm, the mission of surgical clipping is critical to stop blood flow and prevent the bulging vessel from rupturing. To do this, surgeons place small metal clips around the aneurysm base that stop blood flow and reduce pressure. Until now, there has never been a way to confirm blood flow has stopped.
Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center recently enhanced its neurological surgery offerings by introducing the latest advancement in microsurgery — a microscope that illuminates a fluorescent dye, allowing surgeons to follow the blood flow and ensure that an aneurysm is properly clipped. Surgeons can observe a patient's blood flow through the eyepiece or on a video monitor in real time. Both patients and surgeons benefit from the ability to make sure that blood has stopped flowing through the aneurysm.
Vikram Udani, a neurosurgeon affiliated with Sharp HealthCare, performed the first clipping with the Leica M525 OH4 FL Vascular Fluorescence System FL800 Neurosurgical Microscope in August, and has completed two other surgeries since then.
"This new technology has revolutionized the way we perform brain aneurysm surgery," says Dr. Udani. "Now we're better able to confirm a clipping is successful and that normal blood vessels are not blocked, preventing a future rupture that could put a patient's life at risk, and reducing the risk of stroke after surgery."
"Our surgeons already do a great job of placing clips, but this technology almost eliminates the risk of a rupture by giving them clear verification that surgery was successful," says Daniel Cuellar, director of inpatient/outpatient surgery and ambulatory/ancillary and cardiac services at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. "In addition, the microscope helps reduce the length of surgery, further reducing risk to the patient."
Looking ahead, Sharp Chula Vista plans to incorporate an additional mode of fluorescence during brain tumor surgery to help surgeons clearly observe and remove tumors while sparing healthy tissue.