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Coil Embolization for the Treatment of Arterial Aneurysms

Coil embolization surgery

The coil embolization procedure describes a minimally invasive surgical technique used to treat brain aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations. By inserting a catheter through the groin, small coils are guided to the brain and detached from the catheter, thereby blocking the flow of blood to the aneurysm or malformation. One or more platinum coils are left in place to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

Nuclear radiologists or neurosurgeons typically perform this procedure in the hospital. The surgeon makes a small incision at the groin to access the femoral artery. The surgeon uses a dye to make the aneurysm visible in a computerized image, and threads the catheter through the artery. Once close to the aneurysm, the surgeon releases the coils from the catheter. Blood clots form around the coils in the body to stop blood flow.

Coil embolization can be used for aneurysms

An aneurysm represents a bulge or sack in the thin wall of an artery. The bulge can put pressure on the brain tissue and nerves, leading to paralysis. It can also rupture, causing a stroke or death. Coil embolization can be used as a preventive measure after an aneurysm has ruptured or before it ruptures.

The signs of an aneurysm include headaches, nausea or vomiting, and pain in the upper back and neck. When these signs are present, doctors typically perform imaging tests to determine if an aneurysm is present. When a patient is unable to undergo brain surgery to prevent rupture, coil embolization is often recommended.

An arteriovenous malformation is an abnormal opening between a vein and an artery, reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. These abnormal gaps often cause elevated eye pressure, which is a primary symptom of glaucoma. Certain malformations can cause double vision, pain, and abnormal sounds in the ears, such as ringing.

When coil embolization cannot be performed due to the size or location of an aneurysm, alternative options exist. If the bulge is large or occurs at the base of the skull, balloon occlusion may occur. This procedure uses a inflated balloon to restrict blood flow in a process similar to coil embolization through femoral artery insertion.

The risks of this procedure are considered low, but a stroke may occur during coil embolization. In such cases, a patient may experience weakness in the legs or arms, as well as speech and vision problems.

After the coils are in place, patients remain flat for eight hours or more to allow the femoral artery to heal. They typically return home within a day or two. A vascular imaging may be performed several months later to determine if the coils are still in place.


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