An aneurysm is a weak area in a blood vessel that usually enlarges, often described as a “ballooning” of the blood vessel.
About 1.5 to 5 percent of the general population has or will develop a cerebral aneurysm. About 3 to 5 million people in the United States have cerebral aneurysms, but most don't produce any symptoms. Between 0.5 and 3 percent of people with a brain aneurysm may suffer from bleeding.
Special imaging tests can detect a brain aneurysm. Two noninvasive tests show the blood vessels in the brain. In the first, called CTA (computed tomographic angiography), patients are placed on a table that slides into a CT scanner. A special contrast material (dye) is injected into a vein, and images are taken of the blood vessels to look for abnormalities such as an aneurysm. In the second test, called MRA (magnetic resonance angiography), patients are placed on a table that slides into a magnetic resonance scanner, and the blood vessels are imaged to detect a cerebral aneurysm. Both of these screening tests detect most cerebral aneurysms larger than 3–5 mm (about 3/16 inch).
The most reliable test is called a diagnostic cerebral angiogram. In this test, the patient lies on an X-ray table. A small tube (catheter) is inserted through a blood vessel in the leg (groin) and guided into each of the blood vessels in the neck that go to the brain. Contrast is then injected, and pictures are taken of all the blood vessels in the brain. This test is slightly more invasive and less comfortable, but it is the most reliable way to detect all types and sizes of cerebral aneurysms.
Before any treatment is considered, a diagnostic cerebral angiogram is usually performed to fully map a plan for therapy.
For more information on aneurysms or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.
A tumor is a mass of tissue that's formed by an accumulation of abnormal cells. Normally, the cells in your body age, die and are then replaced by new cells. With cancer and other tumors, something disrupts this cycle. Tumor cells grow, even though the body does not need them, and unlike normal old cells, they don't die. As this process goes on, the tumor continues to grow as more and more cells are added to the mass.
Primary brain tumors emerge from the various cells that make up the brain and central nervous system and are named for the kind of cell in which they first form. The most common types of adult brain tumors are gliomas (astrocytic tumors). These tumors form from astrocytes and other types of glial cells, which are cells that help keep nerves healthy.
No one knows what causes brain tumors; there are only a few known risk factors that have been established by research. Children who receive radiation to the head have a higher risk of developing a brain tumor as adults, as do people who have certain rare genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis or Li-Fraumeni syndrome. But those cases represent a fraction of the approximately 28,000 new primary brain tumors diagnosed each year in the United States. Age is also a risk factor. People between the ages of 65 and 79 make up the population most likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumor.
For more information on brain tumors or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.
Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)
A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain. The arteries are responsible for taking oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. Veins carry the oxygen-depleted blood back to the lungs and heart. A brain AVM disrupts this vital process.
An arteriovenous malformation can develop anywhere in your body but occurs most often in the brain or spine. Even so, brain AVMs are rare and affect less than 1 percent of the population.
The cause of AVMs is not clear. Most people are born with them, but they can occasionally form later in life. They are rarely passed down among families genetically.
Some people with brain AVMs experience signs and symptoms, such as headache or seizures. AVMs are commonly found after a brain scan for another health issue or after the blood vessels rupture and cause bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage).
Once diagnosed, a brain AVM can often be treated successfully to prevent complications, such as brain damage or stroke.
For more information on arteriovenous malformation or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.
Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease is a major cause of stroke in the United States. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This may limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.
Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. For example, if plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries, a heart attack can occur. If plaque builds up in the carotid arteries, a stroke can occur.
A stroke also can occur if blood clots form in the carotid arteries. This can happen if the plaque in an artery cracks or ruptures. Blood cell fragments called platelets (PLATE-lets) stick to the site of the injury and may clump together to form blood clots. Blood clots can partly or fully block a carotid artery.
A piece of plaque or a blood clot can also break away from the wall of the carotid artery. The plaque or clot can travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in one of the brain's smaller arteries. This can block blood flow in the artery and cause a stroke.
Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until the carotid arteries are severely narrowed or blocked. For some people, a stroke is the first sign of the disease.
For more information on carotid artery disease or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.
Emergency & Elective Spine Surgery
Emergency Spine Surgery
There are certain situations where spine surgery is an emergency. Thankfully, those situations are rare. In general, emergency situations are those instances where delay may cause irreversible harm to your body. Usually, that situation means experiencing more than just pain. Emergency spine surgery situations are associated with nerve or spinal cord compression that needs relief to give the chance of restoration to normal function. These situations usually involve trauma, infection or cancer.
Elective Spine Surgery
Elective spine surgery is a choice made by a patient after trying to deal with the situation for some time. Usually, there has been a come-and-go period of pain, discomfort, tingling and numbness, without severe muscle loss. For scoliosis patients, there has been an observation period with evidence of progression of the curvature. For patients with an instability pattern, there has been a steady increasing nature of the pain. Despite treatments such as medications, injections, and therapy the symptoms have worsened. For disk herniation patients, there have been recurrent episodes of severe pain, with associated dermatomal neurologic findings.
The decision for surgery is not life threatening (that is more of the emergency spine surgery criteria), but is secondary to a progression of symptoms. For some, the progression is manageable. For some, secondary to the natural aging process, the activity restrictions that naturally result (we do slow down as we get older) are enough to accommodate the underlying spine condition.
For others, the spinal condition is isolated to a specific area, and elective spine surgery can have a significant positive effect on their daily life activities. The chances that elective spine surgery can improve your life, with reasonable associated risks, need to be explored by the patient and the surgeon.
For more information on emergency and elective spine surgery or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.
Diseases of the Brain & Spine
Nearly one in every six individuals around the world suffers from some form of neurological disease or disorder. As individuals age, the impact of neurological disorders affects a growing percentage of the population over 65 years of age. These disorders include diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, such as brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, the automatic nervous system, neuromuscular junction and muscles. Jefferson's expert team of neurologists and neurosurgeons are prepared to provide world-class care, regardless of the specific type of neurological disease or disorder you face.
For more information on diseases of the brain and spine or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.