A new tool for treating brain aneurysms may protect artery blood flow during surgery and reduce the risk of aneurysm regrowth, according to a study presented at the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery’s 18th annual meeting (SNIS; July 26–29 2021, Colorado Springs, USA and virtual).
“Every year, brain aneurysms kill 15,000 Americans and cause neurological damage to a further 9,000,” said Omid Asgari, a senior graduate research associate in the Bioengineering Devices Laboratory (BDL) at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, USA and lead author on this study. “New technology like this balloon stent has the potential to retain brain function and save lives by allowing endovascular neurosurgeons more time to effectively assess and treat patients, keep patients off of blood thinners, and reduce the risk for brain aneurysm regrowth.”
Endovascular neurosurgeons treat some brain aneurysms by using a catheter to fill up the aneurysm with an embolic, which occludes it in order to stop the aneurysm from leaking blood into the brain. This process often requires the use of surgical balloons, which block blood flow both to the aneurysm and to the nearby artery during treatment. However, major challenges for surgeons in this procedure include completing the surgery within a short timeframe in an emergency, and filling the aneurysm fully to minimise long-term aneurysm regrowth.
In the study presented at SNIS 2021, entitled “Prototyping a Balloon Stent for Minimally Invasive Temporary Aneurysm Occlusion and Embolization,” the authors discuss an alternate type of balloon—a balloon stent, or balloon with a central flow channel—that could sustain downstream arterial blood flow while surgeons close off aneurysms more fully, preventing them from regrowing and ultimately rupturing later.
The researchers used a bioengineering simulation process called computational fluid dynamics to find out if a balloon stent could keep a nearby artery from being totally blocked off during surgery. They then tested the balloon stent in the lab using a state-of-the-art 3D-printed model blood vessel and found that it maintained a safe fractional pressure ratio—a strong indicator of sustained downstream blood flow. The researchers are currently working on prototyping the balloon stent device.