Pittsburgh researcher hope to refine understanding of aneurysms
Little is known about why one brain aneurysm might rupture while another won't — a gap in knowledge that can handicap doctors when recommending treatment.
But a research team that includes an Allegheny General Hospital surgeon and a University of Pittsburgh professor hopes to learn more about the potentially fatal condition during a two-year study funded by a $423,852 grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“We don't really understand what is happening with aneurysms in general; they're not the same in everybody, which is why some rupture and why some don't,” said Anne Robertson, professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the research team. “In some cases, the vessel does an amazing job of keeping that big bulge intact over a lifetime. In other cases it doesn't.
“We want to know why.”
Robertson will work on the study with Dr. Khaled Aziz, director of the Center for Complex Intracranial Surgery at Allegheny General Hospital, and Juan Cebral, a professor at George Mason University who specializes in computational fluid dynamics, which studies and analyzes the flow of fluid.
They have studied 12 samples so far.
Aziz, a surgeon who treats patients with brain aneurysms, removed the aneurysms and — rather than discard the tissue, as is standard practice — sent them for further study. Under high-powered microscopes, Robertson began to detect patterns: Some vessels were strong, and thus less likely to rupture, while others were thinner and weaker and more vulnerable to rupture, which often results in death.
“The consequences of a ruptured brain aneurysm are very serious,” Aziz said. “In the last three months, I've seen at least two, if not three, people who came in with a ruptured brain aneurysm who had already died.”
The team hopes to be able to identify a vessel's makeup through safe screening processes, such as CT angiograms and MRIs.
“We want to use this data to refine our imaging techniques,” Aziz said. “We want to be able to say, this aneurysm, the wall is weak and will rupture, or this wall is strong. Right now, it's something we don't know until after we cut out the tissue and send it off.”
About 5 percent of adults suffer from brain aneurysms, Aziz said.
Treatment options range from simple observation for mild cases to surgical removal for more extreme aneurysms, Aziz said. When considering surgery, doctors consider several factors, including the patient's age and health, he said.
The rupture rate of 1 in 10,000 adults is small, but the results are extreme. Half of people who suffer a ruptured brain aneurysm die, and half of the survivors are left with a permanent disability, Aziz said.
The NIH awarded the grant based on the potential the team's research could have on improving diagnoses and treatments, according to documents provided by an NIH spokeswoman.
Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCandless residents voice opposition to Wal-Mart plan
- Squirrel Hill street that had been paved getting another pave job
- Castle Shannon mayor honored by statewide association
- TSA fee increase this week arrives with load of complaints
- Pittsburgh Cultural Trust leads applicants seeking increase in RAD money
- Ukrainian festival will go on in McKees Rocks despite crisis in homeland
- Moon Area board reconfigures elementary buildings, votes again to close school and explore merging with Cornell
- 1 intruder killed, another injured in Carrick home invasion
- Shenango asks judge to dismiss suit by environmental group
- Save-the-map appeal generates $10K online to revitalize North Side artwork
- Board to examine use of sanitary authority vehicles