MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has become one of the nation's leaders in interventional neuroradiology, treating an ever-expanding number of patients with neurological disorders using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques. MedStar Georgetown is one of the few hospitals in the country now performing robotically assisted procedures to treat spine pain, and it is the only hospital in the region studying the use of a liquid plastic to seal aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).
The Interventional Neuroradiology Department offers nonsurgical alternatives to patients with:
Aneurysm Embolization with Coils
One of the most significant advances in the field of interventional neuroradiology has been aneurysm embolization using GDC coils, which offers an 85 percent cure rate in favorably shaped aneurysms.
During the procedure, the physician inserts a microcatheter into the aneurysm, filling it with a series of platinum coils no wider than a human hair. This closes off the aneurysm and reduces the risk of a rupture or rebleeding. In the near future, the use of cerebral stents may enhance this aneurysm embolization process.
Aneurysm and AVM Embolization with Adhesives and Liquid Plastic
MedStar Georgetown is the only center in the region now studying a new liquid plastic agent called Onyx, which is used for embolizing AVMs and certain types of aneurysms. This liquid polymer may eliminate the problems inherent in the adhesive substances that are currently used, which can stick to the catheter. Like the GDC coils, Onyx fills the aneurysm or AVM to seal it off and reduce the risk of bleeding or rupture.
Spine Pain Treatments for Complex Cases and Robotics
MedStar Georgetown offers experience in a number of advanced, minimally invasive approaches to reducing patients' spine pain, often treating patients who have been told there are no options available to them. MedStar Georgetown physicians have performed more than 300 vertebroplasties to treat painful compression fractures, many of them considered high-risk. In addition, the hospital is now offering robotically assisted needle placement for nerve blocks and other procedures. These approaches have been made more effective in the past few years with advances in imaging technology, particularly in three-dimensional and MRI images.
The robot now being studied was developed at MedStar Georgetown in conjunction with the engineering department at Johns Hopkins University. Normally, when physicians place a needle, they must use intermittent X-rays to check on the needle's location, adjust it and check again in order to avoid radiation exposure. When the robot places the nerve-block needles, however, the process can be directly and continuously monitored by X-ray, allowing for greater precision in placement.
Thrombolysis and Clot-Retrieval Device for Acute Stroke Patients
The risk of brain damage can be reduced if patients receive an injection of a thrombolytic agent to dissolve the blood clot within six hours of a stroke. However, because these agents can also increase the risk of hemorrhaging in the brain, other approaches are now being studied, including a clot-retrieval device that actually allows the physician to grab the clot and pull it out. MedStar Georgetown will begin participating in a study of this type of device this fall.
CyberKnife® Treatment of Certain Tumors of the Brain, Neck and Spine
The CyberKnife® is an outpatient, noninvasive alternative to traditional open surgery with little to no recovery time and fewer risks and complications. The CyberKnife® treats for patients with certain hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors.