Skip to content

    Stroke Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Brain Surgery Better When Awake?

    <P>Conscious Brain Angioplasty May Reduce Complications</P>

    WebMD Health News

    Feb. 14, 2003 -- Having brain surgery while awake may sound like something out of a Frankenstein movie, but a new study suggests that performing a risky procedure on a conscious patient may actually help prevent complications.

    Researchers say performing an angioplasty on the brain without general anesthesia allows the patient to report any unusual symptoms, which let doctors immediately alter their technique and reduce the risks.

    During an angioplasty, a tiny balloon is interested into a blocked blood vessel and inflated to clear up or burst the blockage. The procedure is commonly used to open blocked heart arteries, but its use in clearing blocked head and neck vessels is considerably riskier. Damaging the blood vessel wall during a brain angioplasty could cause a stroke from bleeding in the brain.

    In a study presented today at the American Stroke Association's 28th International Stroke Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., researchers say they were able to perform angioplasties within the skull safely on 10 patients who were given local anesthesia and mild sedation rather than general anesthesia, which causes a complete loss of consciousness.

    "Since the patient was awake, he could tell us about any unusual symptoms such as numbness or pain behind the eye that are signs of impending complications," says researcher Alex Abou-Chebl, MD, an interventional neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, in a news release. "If the patient felt a sudden painful sensation behind the eye, for example, that told us that we're over-stretching the vessel with the balloon. So we would immediately deflate the balloon, minimizing the damage."

    In some angioplasty cases, a miniature, cylindrical, mesh-like coil called a stent is left in the artery to keep it propped open, which researchers say further increases the likelihood of complications when dealing with head and neck arteries. The stents can cause debris within the blood vessel to break off, travel, and become lodged in another blood vessel. This blockage of blood flow to the brain could lead to a type of stroke known as an ischemic stroke or a temporary blockage known as a transient ischemic attack.

    Today on WebMD

    brain illustration stroke
    Know these 5 signs.
    brain scans
    Test your stroke smarts.
     
    woman with migraine
    Is there a link?
    brain scan
    Get the facts.
     
    brain scans
    Quiz
    woman with migraine
    Article
     
    brain scan
    Article
    headache
    Video
     
    senior man stretching pre workout
    Article
    Floor level view of therapist helping stroke patie
    Article
     
    concerned woman
    Article
    Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
    SLIDESHOW