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'neurosurgery' 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 ...

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:

Swedish Offers New Treatment for Glioblastoma Brain Tumors

SEATTLE, Feb. 6, 2013 – Swedish Neuroscience Institute has added a new and innovative therapy to its treatment arsenal for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – a very aggressive and difficult to control brain tumor.

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...

Deciding to have Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for PD, ET, or dystonia

Choosing to undergo elective deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is a big deal.

I have walked through the process with hundreds of patients over the past 10 years and see many struggle with the choice to undergo brain surgery, as they seek to improve their quality of life. Many people have adapted to compensate for the movement disorder with creativity and determination.

In spite of this, after the best medical options have been exhausted, DBS is increasingly offered as a viable treatment option.

Keys to making the best decision for you are:

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