An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in an artery, caused by the weakening of the artery’s wall. Aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel, but they occur most often in the brain. If it grows large enough, an aneurysm can be life-threatening. Once a cerebral aneurysm ruptures and fills the brain with blood, the effects can be devastating.
SLUCare neurosurgeon Dr. Saleem Abdulrauf, SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, is leading research into a new way to repair brain aneurysms: doing them while the patient is awake. His work was featured on the cover of the Journal of Neurosurgery last year.
Operating on awake patients for tumors is not uncommon. Talking to the patient while the surgery is going on helps neurosurgeons know where they stand as they are doing surgery. For aneurysms, it’s more complicated because of the tiny vessels being clipped. Surgery may remove an aneurysm but can also put a patient at risk for damaging critical parts of the brain that relate to motor function after the surgery.
Dr. Abdulrauf found that by keeping the patient awake while he could clamp the area before clipping it ensuring the patient still has motor functions after the repair and the surgeon is not blindly clipping vessels with the added risk of damaging motor function post-surgery.