What is flow diversion for brain aneurysms?
Flow diversion is a technique in which your surgeon uses a catheter to place a stent (a soft, flexible mesh tube) into the blood vessel where an aneurysm has formed.
This process immediately diverts the flow of blood away from the aneurysm itself. Rerouting the blood flow takes pressure off the aneurysm so it’s less likely to rupture. In time, new cells grow on the stent, sealing the aneurysm and healing the vessel.
If the stent covers the opening of a branch leading off the vessel, normal flow of blood prevents cells growing on that portion of the stent and blocking the branch, so there is not a risk of the stent cutting off the blood supply to other areas of the brain.
How is flow diversion performed?
Flow diversion is a minimally invasive procedure that does not involve a craniotomy.
While you are under anesthesia, your surgeon inserts a small tube in your leg and carefully guides a narrow, flexible catheter through the blood vessels of your body.
The catheter system is like a telescope and gets narrower the further it goes. The stent, which comes in a range of sizes, is loaded into the very end of the catheter.
When the catheter reaches the brain, the surgeon positions it inside the blood vessel where the aneurysm is present without entering the fragile aneurysm sac.
The stent is put in place and blood flow is immediately rerouted. The surgeon withdraws the catheter and monitors your blood flow to ensure the stent is in proper position. You are awakened and moved into recovery.
Your surgical team monitors you carefully over the next 12 – 24 months as new cells rebuild the blood vessel where your aneurysm occurred.
Reasons for Having a Flow Diversion Procedure
A flow diversion procedure may be performed to treat a variety of unruptured brain aneurysms.
To date, surgeons have had excellent results using this relatively new and minimally invasive technique, and aneurysms have not recurred in vessels treated with this procedure.