You may never know you are sick until one day, you develop a sudden, debilitating headache. You may also experience dizziness, nausea or double vision if you have 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, a process called 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.
At Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, surgeons use an advanced microscope — the Leica M525 OH4 surgical microscope and vascular fluorescence system — that illuminates a fluorescent dye, allowing them 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.
"This technology continues to revolutionize the way we perform brain aneurysm surgery," says Dr. Vikram Udani, a neurosurgeon affiliated with Sharp HealthCare. "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."
Both patients and surgeons benefit from the ability to make sure that blood has stopped flowing through the aneurysm.
"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 and outpatient surgery at Sharp Chula Vista. "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.