Endovascular Neurosurgery and Interventional Neuroradiology
If you have a problem that affects your brain or spinal cord, you may be treated by
a healthcare provider who focuses on the central nervous system. These healthcare
providers can do procedures that are minimally invasive. This means the procedure
can be done with a tiny cut (incision). That's often better than a larger incision
that is needed for open surgery.
What is endovascular neurosurgery?
Neurosurgery is a type of surgery that treats problems of the brain and nerves. The
word endovascular means “inside a blood vessel.” This type of surgery is also known
as neurointerventional surgery. It is done with thin tubes (catheters) and small tools.
These are put into the blood vessels. This is done instead of surgery with a large
cut (incision). The surgeon often uses radiology images at the same time. These help
the surgeon see the part of the body being treated.
These healthcare providers are trained in both neurosurgery and radiology. Then they
do a neurosurgery residency at a hospital. After that, they do a fellowship program
in endovascular neurosurgery. A neurosurgeon may be board certified in neurosurgery
through the American Board of Neurological Surgery. There is no board certified specialty
for endovascular neurosurgery.
What is interventional neuroradiology?
Radiology is a specialty that helps diagnose and treat conditions with imaging methods.
Interventional neuroradiology is a special type of radiology. It uses catheters and
imaging to diagnose and treat conditions of the brain and spinal cord.
These healthcare providers are trained in radiology. And they are trained in neurology
or neurosurgery. Then they do a radiology residency at a hospital. After that, they
do a fellowship program in interventional neuroradiology. A radiologist may be board
certified in neuroradiology. This is done through the American Board of Radiology.
What kinds of procedures are done by these specialists?
The procedures include:
Thrombolytic therapy. This uses medicine to dissolve a clot in a blood vessel in the brain.
Blood clot retrieval. This uses a small catheter to remove a blood clot that is blocking the blood flow
in a brain artery.
Endovascular coiling. This is done to treat a brain aneurysm. A brain aneurysm is a bulge in a weak spot
in the wall of an artery in the brain that fills with blood. The bulge is at risk
of a tear (rupture). This would cause bleeding on the brain. To prevent this, a surgeon
puts a very thin metal coil inside the aneurysm. It blocks blood flow into the bulging
area. It may also be closed with a clip.
Minimally invasive spine surgery. This is done to treat spinal problems. These include fractures, tumors, compressed
nerves, and other conditions that put pressure on the spinal cord.
Cerebral angiography. This is a radiology procedure. It looks at how blood is flowing in the brain.
Carotid artery angioplasty and stenting. The carotid arteries send blood and oxygen to the brain. This procedure uses a small
balloon to open a carotid artery that has become too narrow. A tiny mesh tube called
a stent is then put in place. It keeps the artery open.