|07-20-2002, 12:53 PM||#1|
Journey to the Unknown
Journey to the Unknown
Fri Jul 19,11:49 PM ET
By Serena Gordon
FRIDAY, July 19 (HealthScoutNews) -- Neurosurgeons may soon travel into parts of the brain they have never been able to see before.
That's because researchers from the University of Buffalo have improved on current technology, and developed an imaging system that can provide high-resolution views of blood vessels that are as small as half a millimeter thick. Existing systems can only provide images of vessels down to about 2 millimeters in size.
"The revolutionary thing that came out of our project is the extremely high resolution, and the rapid sequence of image acquisition," explains one of the physicists involved in the project, Iacovos Kyprianou, a doctoral candidate and researcher with the Toshiba Stroke Research Center at the University of Buffalo in New York.
Kyprianou says the new technology, known as "region of interest microangiography," could lead to less invasive surgeries and might let doctors treat conditions, such as certain types of aneurysms, which are currently incurable.
Angiography lets doctors see how blood flows through blood vessels, explains Dr. Karol Zakalik, a neurosurgeon at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. It can be used to locate blood clots, defects in blood vessels and plaque buildup on artery walls.
Zakalik says it is the gold standard of tests for diagnosing heart and brain disease, though it is not as commonly used as CT scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose brain disorders. Angiography is also used to diagnose blood flow problems in the kidneys and legs.
To perform the test, doctors thread a small catheter into the groin area and guide it through the blood vessels to the area where there is a suspected blood flow problem. Using the catheter, dye is injected and a series of X-rays are taken of the area as the dye advances, which gives the doctors a look at how blood flows through the vessels, Zakalik explains.
This new technique, Zakalik adds, "is a more accurate and precise way of looking at the small blood vessels through angiography," and he adds it could offer neurosurgeons new ways to diagnose and treat disorders in those small blood vessels.
However, he says the market for this device is probably small. Angiography is only done at large hospitals, he adds, and many disorders of the brain can be diagnosed with CT scans or MRIs. Also, he says that the further you advance a catheter through the blood vessels, the harder it becomes to control, so there's always a concern about blocking blood flow with the catheter.
Kyprianou presented information about this new technique at this week's annual meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in Montreal.
What To Do
To learn more about angiography of the brain, go to Heart Center Online.
For more information on how the human brain works, go to HowStuffWorks.com.