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Brain or Spine Arteriovenous Malformations

An aneurysm is an abnormal area of weakness involving a blood vessel wall that causes an outward bulging or bubble to grow over time. An aneurysm can involve any blood vessel in the body and in the brain it can enlarge and compress vital brain structures or it can rupture causing a brain haemorrhage. This is a serious event that can be fatal or lead to long term permanent disability. 

Unfortunately many aneurysms are not detected until they have ruptured as an emergency. With increasing use of diagnostic CT and MRI scans in the community a significant number of aneurysms are now also diagnosed prior to rupture. 

Not all brain aneurysms need to be treated and may be closely monitored with CT or MRI scans to observe for any change in size or shape of the brain aneurysm which may then indicate a need for treatment.

Brain aneurysms that require treatment can be repaired by an open neurosurgical clipping procedure or an endovascular coiling procedure.  Both open neurosurgical and endovascular procedures are highly effective in treating both ruptured and unruptured brain aneurysms with different risks and benefits. The treatment procedure performed depends on multiple factors and decisions are made following close collaboration by all members of the treating team at Gold Coast University Hospital.

Acute brain haemorrhage patients are transferred directly to Gold Coast University Hospital from all over Queensland and Northern New South Wales for emergency ICU admission and treatment when required 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Not all patients are suitable for treatment which first requires emergency assessment with high quality CT scans of the brain including CT angiography which clearly defines the brain aneurysm. 

The endovascular brain aneurysm repair procedure involves General Anaesthesia and then internal access to the abnormal brain artery with the aneurysm using an artery in the wrist or upper leg. Using sophisticated navigation systems, the artery in the brain and brain aneurysm can be repaired with a combination of unique devices such as platinum coils or balloons or sophisticated stents that reconstruct and reinforce the abnormal brain artery.  If treated before damage has occurred the brain can recover and return to normal function with little or no deficit. This allows patients to return to independent living and make a full recovery from a potentially devastating brain aneurysm.

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