An aneurysm represents a weak spot in the wall of an artery which results in a "focal bulge" or widening of the artery. In the brain, these aneurysms have a 2-4% annual risk of rupture which can result in "subarachnoid hemorrhage", or bleeding in the space around the brain.
There are approximately between 12,000 and 28,000 subarachnoid hemorrhages annually in the United States. Patients with subarachnoid hemorrhages will usually complain of "the worst headache of his/her life" and can have nausea, vomiting, visual changes, neck stiffness, and loss of consciousness. A hemorrhage of this type is considered a medical emergency: 10-15% of these patients die prior to reaching the hospital. Of those who do reach the hospital, half usually do not survive beyond 30 days, with the majority of the other half of survivors suffering a permanent stroke.
Currently, there are two methods of treating intracranial aneurysms:
- Brain surgery with placement of a clip around the neck of the aneurysm.
- Embolization of the aneurysm with the placement of platinum GDC coils from inside the blood vessel through a catheter in the groin.
Emory is a national leader, specializing in the treatment of aneurysms using the GDC (Guglielmi Detachable) Coils.