CHICAGO – Rush University Medical Center is offering a newly FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysms that is safer for patients and has a shorter recovery period than other treatments.
Rush is the first academic medical center in Illinois and the first comprehensive stroke center in the state to offer the Woven EndoBridge (WEB) Aneurysm Embolization System, a minimally invasive option for treating wide-neck bifurcation aneurysms in certain areas of the brain.
“This new device is a game-changer for patients with complex brain aneurysms. Prior to this major advent in endovascular therapy, treatment was often more risky and difficult for a substantial number of those patients,” said Dr. Webster Crowley, chief of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery at Rush.
An aneurysm is an enlarged, weakened area of an artery that is bulging or ballooned. If left untreated, it may rupture, often resulting in severe disability, cognitive loss or death.
An estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm.
Wide-necked bifurcation aneurysms occur at a point in an artery where it branches into two arteries and account for 35 percent of all brain aneurysms.
The WEB device is made from ultra-fine wires braided together to form a flexible, self-expanding mesh that effectively plugs the aneurysm. During the WEB system procedure, a small catheter is threaded through a tiny incision in the groin area and threaded through the patient’s arteries to the aneurysm site.
Using fluoroscopy imaging, the surgeon deploys the WEB device into the sac of the aneurysm where the flexible mesh conforms to the aneurysm walls, minimizing blood flow inside the aneurysm. In comparison to the current mainstay of endovascular treatment, in which multiple coils are placed inside the aneurysm, only one WEB is required for an aneurysm.
Highly effective and safer
In most cases, over time, the body seals off the neck of the aneurysm, essentially curing it.
“If we can fix the aneurysm before it ruptures, then the threat of this aneurysm bursting and the patient dying from it essentially goes away,” Crowley said.
The WEB device allows doctors to treat wide-necked aneurysms without the need for placing stents in the brain, which keeps patients off of post-procedure blood thinning medications, such as Plavix, that are used for stents. The new device also shortens endovascular procedure time in treating aneurysms compared to alternative therapies. The minimally invasive nature of the procedure means most patients are able to go home the next day.
In clinical testing, the WEB system was shown to be highly effective and safer than other options.
In addition to unruptured aneurysms, the WEB system may be used in some cases in which the aneurysm has already ruptured, potentially providing more desirable options for treatment.
“Before this device was available, ruptured wide-necked aneurysms often required open-brain surgery to clip the aneurysm as a stent is not ideal in those patients because of the need for blood thinners,” Crowley said. “This device will let us endovascularly treat a much larger number of aneurysms than we ever have before, and fewer patients may need surgical clipping of their aneurysm.”