About a decade ago, doctors discovered that Jerry Kountz had an aneurysm. He was evaluated in Chapel Hill, but his neurologist decided against surgery to repair it because it could risk triggering a stroke. Meanwhile, the physician told him the aneurysm, a weak area in the artery wall that bulges out, had a one percent chance of bursting, which would spill blood into the brain.
“It’s always on the back of your mind,” Kountz said. “Even a small percentage like that. They could be wrong.”
Years later, as Kountz was preparing to take a stress test to evaluate his heart performance, he mentioned that he had an aneurysm. He was referred to Dr. Vinodh Doss, an interventional neurologist with NHRMC Physician Group – Neurology.
Since Kountz had last been evaluated, his aneurysm had grown significantly, which is a sign of danger.
Dr. Doss explained that Kountz had another option to repair the aneurysm: a minimally invasive endovascular technique that involved accessing the aneurysm through blood vessels instead of opening the skull. Kountz also discovered he was eligible for the new WEB device, which looks like a tiny mesh basket. Once placed, the device seals off the aneurysm to prevent the risk of bleeding.
Although Kountz, who is 75, knew the aneurysm may never rupture, he felt it was fairest to his family to have it repaired. He appreciated hearing Dr. Doss explain the advanced procedure, which has been performed successfully in Europe for several years.
“It’s a no brainer, no pun intended,” Kountz said. “And less risk.”
Kountz was the first patient in North Carolina to receive the new WEB device, which was recently approved by the FDA. The device may be preferable for certain types of aneurysms instead of the more invasive open surgical clipping or another endovascular repair option using platinum coils with a stent.
“The availability of this option has the potential to revolutionize the management of aneurysms throughout the country,” said Dr. Doss. “We are pleased to offer this latest advancement to ensure we are providing the right care to patients when they need it.”
The procedure means a greater number of patients will be eligible for a minimally invasive repair option. Some were not good candidates for the other minimally invasive technique using coils and stents because it can require blood thinners.
Another advantage of the WEB device is a shorter procedure time because it involves placing a single device instead of multiple coils and one to two stents to hold them in place.
After so many years living with the aneurysm, Kountz said he is now “just relieved that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
NHRMC is the only hospital in southeastern North Carolina to offer 24/7 neuro-interventional coverage to treat patients suffering cerebrovascular emergencies, including stroke and aneurysms.