Monday, September 18th, 2017
Last modified on September 12th, 2022
For those who have suffered from a stroke, brain surgery is a viable option to improve the quality and longevity of their lives. No matter what the surgery may be, it’s never easy to experience it, let alone make the decision to undergo it; however, as a patient or a supporter of one, it’s good to know every possible avenue that can lead to a successful recovery.
By learning about various procedures linked to substantial health improvements after a stroke, and talking to the doctor, you’ll be able to decide whether or not surgery is a worthwhile possibility for yourself or a loved one.
There are many factors that come into play before considering an operation after a stroke. Concerns like a patient’s overall physical health before the stroke, the severity of the stroke itself, and the state of being after an attack all play a vital role in deciding what to do. The best question you can ask yourself or a loved one is, “Will surgery improve my/their quality of life?” To help answer that question, here are six different types of surgeries with proven track records of advancement.
With the purpose of clearing a blockage from a blood vessel, a Mechanical Embolectomy is a minimally invasive surgery with significant benefits. Basically, a tiny plastic tube is inserted into an artery within the upper part of the leg. Using X-ray technology, a surgeon then guides the tube into the obstructed artery of the brain. Once the tube is in place, the surgeon will then use a device that is slipped inside the tube and transferred to the blockage, where it will be flushed out or reclaimed.
This procedure can be extremely beneficial to a patient because of its less-invasive nature, but also because it can be done up to 8–12 hours after an individual shows signs of having a stroke. Keep in mind that choosing to undergo this operation is a pressing matter, and a decision should be made quickly. For each hour that passes after someone exhibits signs of a stroke, the less effective a procedure will be—and it will come with heightened chances of complications.
Whenever a person suffers from a significant stroke, blood flow to the brain is cut off, and massive swelling occurs. The swelling then leads to severe pressure (intracranial pressure) inside the skull, which causes brain damage. When that pressure builds to detrimental proportions, a Hemicraniectomy can be a life-saving option.
A Hemicraniectomy is a major surgical operation during which a section (half or greater) of the patient’s skull is removed to allow the swelling in the brain to increase past the limitation of the cranium. This is necessary because when the brain swells, it has the potential to rub against the skull bone, causing significant brain damage from a mixture of contact and pressure. By removing a piece of the skull, the brain has the room to expand and then subside, and once swelling has decreased, the removed skull section—being frozen in the meantime—can be sutured back into place.
Although this operation has a successful history of restoration, it does not assure that a recovery will be made in severe cases. This option may not be appropriate for those who have suffered large strokes, exhibited poor health prior to surgery, or are above the age of 60.
Typically reserved for those who are at risk of having a stroke, a Carotid Angioplasty is a procedure that opens and reduces congestion within the carotid artery—the major artery which allows blood flow to the brain. In this operation, a small balloon is inserted and inflated into the carotid artery, widening the pathway and freeing it from excessive buildup. Along with this procedure, a stent (metal coil) is also used to keep the artery open, preventing it from narrowing again once the balloon is in place.
Overall, this option is a good alternative for those who, for whatever reason, cannot undergo traditional carotid surgery; studies have shown that the rate of stroke prevention is relatively the same in contemporary standards.
For those who do make the decision to go with a traditional carotid surgery, this procedure is known as a Carotid Endarterectomy. Much like how the angioplasty would widen the artery, this operation completely eradicates any blockage from it and expands it. A surgeon will remove any plaque on the arterial walls so that blood flows smoothly to the brain. In the same respect as the angioplasty, this procedure can be done for both stroke prevention and stroke management.
Relating to the issue of a blocked carotid artery, a Cerebral Revascularization—also known as Bypass Surgery—is a procedure where a new blood supply is connected to the part of the brain that is cut off from blood flow. A surgeon will essentially take another artery from the scalp and reposition its pathway to restore blood to the brain. Once blood flow is reinstalled, the brain will operate under normal conditions, clearing away prior symptoms. For patients who suffer from mini-strokes or TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks), this operation can be a good preventative choice.
An aneurysm is a potential cause of a stroke. A swelling occurs within an artery due to weakening of the arterial wall, which then creates a balloon-like bulge filled with blood. This buildup can prevent blood flow from reaching the brain, resulting in serious complications. To alleviate an aneurysm, there are two options, an Aneurysm Clipping or a Coil Embolization. An Aneurysm Clipping is a procedure that cuts off the aneurysm to blood vessels in the brain, helping to prohibit any more blood leaking from the aneurysm itself. A surgeon will make a small cut inside the brain, installing a tiny clamp to the base of the aneurysm. Typically, this operation requires a patient to stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a few days afterward.
As for a Coil Embolization, this procedure is much like the Mechanical Embolectomy mentioned earlier. A surgeon will insert a small plastic tube into an artery in the leg, transferring it to the location of the aneurysm. Once it is in place, a coil is transferred through the tube directly into the aneurysm. This process will cause a blood clot to form, halting blood flow through the aneurysm, which keeps it from bursting. If you or a loved one is suffering from an aneurysm, seek medical attention immediately.
Depending on what complications you or a loved one may be experiencing, trust that there are life-saving options available to you. Whether you are showing symptoms of a potential stroke, or dealing with the aftermath of one, these surgeries can make a huge difference for the future.
Nonetheless, when it comes to dealing with a stroke—at any capacity—it can be devastating, but by being prepared and informed, one doesn’t have to feel helpless in finding a clear path to recovery. Keep in mind that despite the success of these procedures, no surgery can guarantee success, so it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before proceeding.
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.