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Neuroscience (SNI) Blog

'neuroscience' Neuroscience (SNI) posts

Treating Arteriovenous Malformations to Remove the Risk of Rupture

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the brain is a relatively rare condition – occurring in less that 1 percent of the population. It can, however, be neurologically morbid in young adults ages 15 to 20, who are at the greatest risk for hemorrhage and least likely to exhibit symptoms. About 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs each year hemorrhage.

An AVM’s tangled mass of blood vessels, which forms in utero, produces multiple direct connections between arteries and veins without the normal, intervening capillaries. Symptoms often are not present until later in life or until after the AVM ruptures.

A small number of congenital syndromes, such as Sturge-Weber, Rendu-Osler-Weber, ataxia telangiectasia, and Wyburn-Mason, are associated with AVMs. Once formed, extrinsic factors, such as arterial shunting, growth factors and intracranial hemorrhage, may alter the size and shape of an AVM.

The most common types of AVMs are:

Do you know the symptoms of a brain aneurysm?

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day demands and ignore changes in our health. It may not be wise, however, to dismiss those changes as symptoms of a hectic life. Blurred vision, dizziness or headaches that don’t get better can signal something serious.

Anywhere from 1 to 6 percent of Americans have a brain aneurysm but don’t know it. An aneurysm is a blister-like bulge on the wall of a blood vessel. It can go unnoticed for a long time. If it’s not treated, the pressure of the blood weakens the vessel, and the aneurysm grows like a balloon filling with air. If the aneurysm bursts, it causes a stroke.

An aneurysm can put pressure on nerves or tissue in the brain, which may cause:

  • Headache or neck pain
  • Vision problems, enlarged pupil, drooping eye lid
  • Numb face
  • Severe drowsiness

If you have a brain aneurysm, your doctor may ...

Carotid Stenosis: What you need to know

Carotid stenosis is a build of up plaque in the large arteries that supply the brain with blood. This buildup of plaque increases the risk of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke. Risk factors for carotid artery stenosis include hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and tobacco use. Symptoms of carotid artery stenosis include facial droop, weakness or numbness on one side of the face and body, slurred speech, garbled speech, gait instability, dizziness, and visual disturbances including blurred vision, loss of vision and double vision.

Carotid artery stenosis can be diagnosed with several diagnostic studies including carotid ultrasound, MR angiography (MRA), CT angiography (CTA), and cerebral angiogram.

Treatment options for carotid artery stenosis vary depending upon the severity of stenosis, history of TIA or stroke, and...

The benefits of DBS and neuromodulation: helping patients

After working in the field of neuromodulation for the past 25 years, I have seen many advances in the field; both in our understanding of the nervous system, and new technology designed to target specific neuronal pathways that will offer the best outcome for patients. It is an exciting field with new investigations that lead to ever expanding knowledge. However, what really keeps me interested in the field after all these years is the opportunity and privilege to be a part of our patients lives on a daily basis. The picture and comment shared below from a grateful patient who had DBS with us two years ago says it all…

"I look back on my experience at Swedish with a grateful heart... thankful for every day I've been given.."

How much tremor is too much?

Tremor is a normal physiologic reaction to anxiety or stress, but it is not normal to have a tremor when performing typical daily activities.

People who develop a tremor while eating, drinking, writing or doing other common activities may have a movement disorder called Essential Tremor. This is actually the most common movement disorder, and can affect up to 4% of people over age 40. People who have this disorder can take medications to help minimize the tremor, but they don't often reduce the tremor by more than about half. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an excellent treatment option for people with severe tremor, and can nearly eliminate the tremor in many patients. Many patients aren't sure when their tremor is severe enough to warrant surgery, and much of our conversation in the office is to help answer this question.

There is no one answer that is right for everyone, but for me it has to do with how well someone is actually doing in their daily life:

New considerations given about when to refer for Deep Brain Stimulation

Every year in the fall, our Swedish DBS Team has a table in the exhibit area at the Hope Conference for Parkinson's Disease. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people in the PD community, and spend time chatting with our other neuroscience colleagues from centers in the area.

I am always surprised by the numbers of people who come by and say, “I am not ready, my disease is not bad enough, I am too young, or I haven't had PD long enough”...

The Goal of DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) Surgery

I met with several patients this week to discuss their personal journey to making the decision to pursue DBS surgery. Not surprisingly, they were well educated about their disease and treatment options.

Each patient reminded me that there is a lot of information and misinformation about surgery for movement disorders.

The most important advice I can give any patient or family is...

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