Innovative treatment for brain aneurysms

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patient in MRI machine

"That car accident saved her life."

Dr. Aniel Majjhoo, an interventional neurologist with McLaren Macomb, was reviewing the diagnostic images of his new patient.

A month before, 25-year old Roseville resident Jessica was in a car accident, hit by another driver. Since that night, she had been experiencing painful headaches. She was referred by her McLaren family physician Dr. Gail MacIntyre to Dr. Majjhoo, also the medical director of the Neurosciences Institute at McLaren Macomb.

Her MRI confirmed an aneurysm had been growing (and would continue to grow) in her brain.

"It was surreal," said Jessica, who became overwhelmed by her diagnosis. "The only thing I've heard about aneurysms was that you could die from them. To know that's what it was, it was a lot."

An aneurysm is a thinning and weakening of the arterial wall, creating a balloon-like bulge. Blood flow aids to the growth of an aneurysm, which increases its chances of rupture, sending blood into the brain and skull.

"This was the last thing I was expecting, especially for someone my age," she said. "It doesn't run in my family."

Given her age and its advanced size, Dr. Majjhoo concluded that it had been a particularly aggressive aneurysm, growing for several years and at a greater risk of rupture.

Still, despite those circumstances, Jessica had not experienced any of the common symptoms until the car accident. But, says Dr. Majjhoo, most aneurysm patients don't exhibit any symptoms.

Regardless of the presence of symptoms or not, the aneurysm had to be treated. A ruptured aneurysm is a severely life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical intervention.

"It is critically important to divert continuous blood flow from the aneurysm," said Dr. Majjhoo.

Traditionally, aneurysm treatments have included surgical clipping and endovascular coiling. While those remain viable options, working within a delicate aneurysm can be very sensitive.

Dr. Majjhoo turned to a new groundbreaking treatment option, a minimally invasive procedure designed to divert blood flow over the aneurysm, preventing its growth.

Designated the Pipelineâ„¢ Flex, the procedure involves tunneling a catheter from an artery in the groin to an artery in the brain. Then a specialized mesh-like metallic alloy stent is placed across the neck of the aneurysm in the cerebral artery, diverting blood flow from the aneurysm, naturally shrinking it over time, decreasing its chances of rupture.

Jessica was the first patient in Macomb County to receive the Pipeline.

"This is a favorable, minimally invasive and effective treatment option," Dr. Majjhoo said.

With the Pipeline securely in place, the passage of time proved triumphant.

With the Pipeline cutting off the blood flow that had sustained its growth for years, the aneurysm was healed, safely and naturally shrinking to the point it was indistinguishable on an MRI.

Confirmed by diagnostic imaging, the aneurysm that had grown to dangerous, potentially life-threatening size in Jessica's brain was gone.

Gone, too, were the headaches the aneurysm had caused her.

"The whole thing was very scary," she said. "There was a lot of anxiety, thinking maybe they had to open my head. But now it's such a sense of relief knowing that the aneurysm is gone and it being such a simple procedure."

To learn more about neurosciences at McLaren Macomb, visit