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Doctors Remove Tennis Ball-Sized Bulge From Woman's Brain

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Doctors successfully removed a huge aneurysm almost the size of a tennis ball from the brain of a 52-year-old woman in New Delhi, India. The team of surgeons removed a staggering 7-centimeter-long (about 2.75 inches) giant aneurysm.

The doctors from BLK Super Speciality Hospital performed the slightly invasive brain surgery by utilizing a technique to divert blood flow away from the aneurysm. This was done to save the life of Sundus Salman. Aneurysms in the brain that are larger than 2 centimeters (1 inch) are rare and potentially-fatal.

"Aneurysms larger than 2 cms (1 inch) are rare and are called 'giant aneurysms'. Salman's aneurysm was 7 centimeters which is extremely huge and surgery in such cases carries huge risks given that it involves vital areas in the brain," Dr. Vikas Gupta, Director, Neurosurgery, BLK Super Speciality explained.

Dr. Gupta said that Salman sent him an e-mail in November to reach them. She said that she has a large bulge that emerged from her brain which restricted her eye movement. She endured the bulge for eight long years.

"Her aneurysm surgery earlier had failed and this time there were greater chances of the aneurysm to rupture because of its size," Dr. Gupta said. They used 3D imaging to help them identify high risk areas.

Salman underwent surgery in Turkey way back in 2007 but the surgery did not alleviate her condition. She was treated with stent assisted coil embolization but the aneurysm returned in a larger shape making her condition worse.

"The 3D imaging and angiogram displayed that microsurgical option was risky due to its giant size and location near the artery which branches to the eyes. By-pass of the main artery was ruled out," said Dr. YP Bundela, Sr. Consultant, Neurosurgery, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, and one of the surgeons who treated Salman.

To alleviate her condition, a new method was considered to make sure the aneurysm won't recur and to stop it from growing bigger. They stopped blood flow to the artery through a new technique using a Max Merlin device.

This will divert the blood flow from flowing to the aneurysm. If her aneurysm will grow further, it might rupture causing hemorrhage or bleeding in the brain which is fatal.

The day after her operation, Salman's eye movements improved. In just a week, she came out of the hospital ready to live a normal life. For the first time in India, Max Merlin device was used to correct an aneurysm which is very hard to treat.

What Is Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is the ballooning of the arterial wall caused by increased blood pressure. It occurs when part of the blood vessel or cardiac chamber balloons or swells. This happens if the wall of blood vessel is damaged or has become weak.

When a person has increased blood pressure, the vessels will reach a point where they become weak. Though it may occur at any part of the body, those that occur in the brain and aorta in the abdomen or thoracic area are the most fatal.

If an aneurysm reaches its largest size, there is an increased risk of rupture that may lead to severe internal bleeding or hemorrhage. Bleeding in the brain or the aortic abdominal or thoracic areas may lead to death.

What Causes Aneurysm?

The most common cause of cerebral aneurysm is hypertension or increased blood pressure. Other causes include weakness in the artery wall which is usually present at birth, arteriosclerosis or cholesterol plaques, platelets and other substances attached to the arterial wall making it hard for blood to pass through, and increased age.

In aortic aneurysms specifically in the abdomen, atherosclerosis is the most common cause wherein cholesterol deposits on the arterial wall. Increased blood pressure also contributes to this condition. Other risk factors include smoking, vasculitis, cocaine use, and family history.

Photo: Allan Ajifo | Flickr 

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