Our neuroscience program offers technologically advanced methods of treating stroke, aneurysms and other neurological conditions. We combine specialized neurological expertise and high quality patient care to provide neuro treatment options previously unavailable in Alaska.
For more information about neuroscience procedures at Alaska Regional, please call (907) 264-2332.
Our neuroscience program offers endovascular neuroradiology, one of the latest techniques in neurosurgery. Endovascular neuroradiology is a minimally-invasive approach to treating vascular diseases of the central nervous system. These options for stroke and aneurysm treatment are advances in medicine that replace open surgical procedures and may reduce pain, intracranial swelling and risks associated with traditional neurosurgery. Other advantages may include:
- A shorter hospital stay
- Decreased risk of infection
- Improved outcomes and satisfaction
- Decreased expense
Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury refers to damage to brain tissues that results from physical jarring occurring in motor vehicle accidents, falls, violent blows to the head, sports injuries or other related events. A head injury may be “closed” or “open.” A “closed” injury means the skull is not broken, whereas an “open” injury means the skull is broken and an object penetrates into the brain. Potential exists for considerable damage to brain tissues, from both types of injuries, due to swelling, bleeding and bruising.
According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. for persons between the ages of one and 44. The leading causes of traumatic brain injury are motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and falls.
Common types of traumatic brain injuries include concussions, subarachnoid hemorrhages and subdural hematomas. Because of the potential consequences of these injuries, anyone who experiences a blow to the head, even a minor one, should be watched carefully and evaluated by a physician. Alaska Regional’s emergency department specialists, neurologists and neurosurgeons work closely together to ensure quick and effective responses to traumatic brain injury cases.
Traumatic brain injury can result in a range of symptoms, including:
- Loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
- Cognitive problems like confusion and agitation
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities
Traumatic brain injury diagnosis and treatment
Depending on the problem, neurological examinations like EEG testing, specialized ultrasound, CT or MRI scanning are likely to be performed for diagnosing a traumatic brain injury. When treating a traumatic brain injury, it is vital to prevent further damage to the head or neck. Emergency specialists will ensure adequate blood and oxygen supply to the brain and minimize the effect of bleeding or inflammation. If there is a risk of convulsions, anti-seizure drugs may be administered.
Our neurosurgeons may perform procedures to create an opening in the skull to allow accumulated blood or other fluids to drain and relive pressure on the brain, to remove clotted blood or to repair skill fractures.
Patients with traumatic brain injury most likely will require a rehabilitation program to regain cognitive and motor skills.
Concussions occur when the brain is jarred or shaken violently within the skull. They may or may not cause a person to lose consciousness, and the unconscious state may last for a period ranging from a few seconds to a prolonged time, resulting in a coma. In order to determine a concussion’s severity, an EEG, CT or MRI may be required. Treatment of concussions typically consists of rest, medications and watchful waiting.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage refers to bleeding in the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain. This thin space is called the subarachnoid space. Subarachnoid hemorrhages can result from medical causes, including ruptured brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations and the use of blood thinners. Although, injury-related subarachnoid hemorrhages are not uncommon. Subarachnoid hemorrhages generally occur in younger age groups as a result of motor vehicle accidents and in elderly patients from falls in which they may strike their head.
A subdural hematoma occurs when there is bleeding in the skull that causes compression of brain tissue. They can develop rapidly from serious head injuries or more slowly over time from even minor injuries. Acute hematomas fill the brain with blood quickly, compressing brain tissue and presenting the prospect of brain damage and even death. Chronic subdural hematomas may take days or weeks for symptoms to become obvious. In both cases, the tiny veins between the brain and its outer covering stretch and tear. Subdural hematoma is an emergency condition that requires prompt evaluation and intervention at the first sign of the problem.
Neuroscience specialty procedures
In addition to treating traumatic brain injury, Alaska Regional provides a range of other neurological procedures.
Endovascular aneurysm coiling
When performing an endovascular aneurysm coiling, a neurosurgeon threads a catheter into the affected cerebral vessel and positions a microcatheter inside the aneurysm. This allows the neurosurgeon to treat the disease from inside the blood vessel. Small platinum coils are placed to redirect the flow of blood away from the aneurysm.
Intracranial stenting is used to treat severe narrowing of an artery within the brain. During the procedure, a catheter is threaded from the thigh and a stent, or small metal tube, is placed inside the diseased blood vessel to return it to its normal size and to support the walls of the artery.
Arterial venous malformation embolization
Arterial venous malformation embolization is performed to prevent blood vessels from rupturing, which may cause stroke or damage to the spinal tissue. Through a catheter in the groin, the physician injects various materials into the abnormal blood vessels to completely close them.
During a carotid stenting procedure, a surgeon inserts a stent into the patient’s carotid artery. The carotid artery is a major artery of the head and neck that helps supply blood to the brain. The stent expands, thereby increasing blood flow in areas blocked by plaque.