Pipeline technology heals hard-to-reach aneurysms
Kristine Meyer is cherishing every moment after doctors eliminated a small aneurysm behind her eye and nose.
Kristine Meyer listens with pride as her 9-year-old son plays “This Little Light of Mine” on a small piano.
There was a time when she wasn’t sure she’d be around to hear him play, or to sit and color with her 6-year-old daughter.
But now she cherishes every moment.
More than a year ago, at 42, the commercial real estate broker was diagnosed with a small, hard-to-reach brain aneurysm, which she feared would burst while driving with her two children in the car.
She felt numbness in her arm, dizziness and was often off balance.
“My equilibrium was off. It wasn’t the norm for me. I was just not feeling right,” Meyer said. “I felt like something was wrong.”
A CT scan revealed a cerebral aneurysm that was small and in a difficult location behind her eye and nose. That made minimally invasive surgery a poor option. (Doctors sometimes use coils inside the aneurysm or clip the aneurysm with a tiny metal clip by surgically opening the skull.)
Luckily, she became the last patient to enroll in an international study led by Baptist Health neurosurgeons to treat small and medium-sized brain aneurysms.
In a November 2015 surgery, Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, neurovascular surgeon and director of the Baptist Neurological Institute at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, inserted a braided cylindrical mesh called a flow diverter through a vein in Meyer’s groin. Then he threaded the device through her body and up to her brain, to slow the flow of blood into the aneurysm and allow the diseased vessel to heal.
Meyer was home the next day and was back to work in two weeks.
Dr. Hanel, along with Eric Sauvageau, MD, neurovascular surgeon and director of the Baptist Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center, were co-authors and co-investigators of the study. Dr. Hanel presented their findings at the International Stroke Conference in Houston in February 2017.
Twenty-two sites in the United States and one in Canada participated in the study, which included 141 patients. Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville had 21 participants, the highest number enrolled, including Meyer.
The doctors found that a cylindrical “pipeline” used for treating large brain aneurysms is just as effective on smaller and sometimes harder to reach ones.
The Pipeline is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for adults with aneurysms greater than 12 mm.
The study found that a high rate of aneurysms were completely healed at the one-year follow up, with no cases of recurrence. These results were submitted to the FDA for review.
“This study shows the benefit of this breakthrough technology for smaller aneurysms and that patients can do well with these treatments,” Dr. Hanel said.
In her own follow-up visit, in October 2016, Dr. Hanel told Meyer that her aneurysm was gone after shrinking over time since the procedure.
“That was the best Thanksgiving gift I could have received,” Meyer said. “Not living with that constant fear and worry is an amazing thing.”
She’s now enjoying time with her husband, two children, family and friends.
“Nothing is holding us back,” she said. “We have fun camping and riding the jet skis and just being a normal busy family. We are appreciating every single blessing that has come our way and we are truly enjoying life more than ever now.”
For more information, go to baptistjax.com/brain.