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Learn about interventional radiology
Massachusetts General Hospital provides coil occlusion, a minimally invasive, image-guided treatment for cerebral arterial aneurysms, on the Mass General main campus in Boston. Performed by specially trained neurointerventional radiologists and endovascular neurosurgeons using real-time image guidance, interventional procedures such as coil occlusion of cerebral aneurysms are accomplished through only a tiny groin incision, may have fewer risks of complication, and take less recovery time than traditional open cerebrovascular surgery.
Coil occlusion overview
Coil occlusion in depth
What is coil occlusion?
Coil occlusion is an image-guided, non-surgical procedure that is used to prevent or treat bleeding arising from blood-vessel rupture due to a cerebral aneurysm (a bulge or sac in an artery wall). The procedure involves threading a thin catheter through your blood vessels to the point of the aneurysm and placing one or more soft metal coils within the aneurysm. Once the coils are in place, your blood will clot around them, blocking off the neck of the aneurysm and restoring a normal pathway of blood flow. This procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia.
The neurointerventional team who perform procedures at Mass General Imaging are specialists in the area of the body and the condition under treatment, as well as the procedure itself. These specialists have all undergone additional education, plus have extensive real-world experience. In many cases, our doctors helped to pioneer the interventional treatments that we offer.
Our team of specialist physicians and nurse practitioners coordinates a patient's complete care—from imaging evaluation to post-procedure followup—maintaining a high level of communication with the patient throughout the process. In addition, Mass General Imaging works in close coordination with experts from across Mass General when necessary, to ensure the best patient outcomes.
What should I expect BEFORE coil occlusion?
What should I expect DURING coil occlusion?
Since the procedure is performed under general anesthesia, you will be completely asleep for the entire duration. During the procedure, a specially trained NeuroInterventional radiologist or Endovascular Neurosurgeon uses live imaging to thread a plastic tube, called a catheter, through your blood vessels from a small incision in the groin to the location of the cerebral aneurysm. The doctor then places one or more tiny metal coils into the aneurysm. Once the coiling is complete, you will awake in the recovery area where a team of specially trained doctors and nurses continue to monitor your care.
What should I expect AFTER coil occlusion?
If your procedure treated a ruptured cerebral aneurysm in progress, you will remain in the hospital for as long as necessary to recover. If your procedure was done as a preventative measure, you will be admitted to the hospital for 48 hours so that we can monitor your condition. Once you return home, you should take it easy for a few days and avoid any strenuous activity for 10 days. Most people return to a normal level of activity in one to three weeks.
A cerebral aneurysm (also called an intracranial aneurysm or brain aneurysm) is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery in the brain, resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning. Because there is a weakened spot in the artery wall, there is a risk for rupture (bursting) of the aneurysm.
Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, explains how the ability to see deep inside the body has driven the development of minimally invasive methods of treatment—a trend in which Mass General Imaging has played a key role.
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