The Interbalkan Medical Center of Thessaloniki is the only hospital in northern Greece that systematically performs embolization for various diseases of the central nervous system.
It is a surgery branch, aiming to treat vascular diseases of the Central Nervous System (brains and spinal cord), that has rapidly developed during the last 25 years.
The principal characteristic of embolization is that it approaches the brain vessels through their own lumen (intravascularly) and not externally like in conventional surgery by conducting craniotomy.
This kind of internal access combined with HD angiographs, 3D imaging, micro-catheters, state-of-the-art micro-wiring and continuously advancing embolization materials enable the intravascular treatment of many diseases of the brain and spinal cord, with excellent results and very low complications rates.
The diseases predominantly treated with intravascular surgery are:
- brain aneurysms, either ruptured with subarachnoid hemorrhage or unruptured,
- AV malformations - fistulas of brain and spinal cord,
- arteriovenous fistulas of the dura mater, traumatic or automatic arteriovenous fistulas of head and neck,
- stenoses of intracranial vessels (carotid, middle cerebral artery, basilar artery, etc.),
- extracranial vascular stenoses, like of the carotid or the vertebral artery,
- acute ischemic stroke by occlusion of large cerebral vessel,
- vascularized tumors of the head, neck and spine as a preoperative or palliative therapy (meningiomas, schwannomas, paragangliomas, hemangioblastoma, angiofibromas),
- hemangiomas of the head, neck and spine as a single or supplementary therapy,
- nosebleeds or others hard to control hemorrhages of the head and neck.
The endovascular procedures for the above conditions have been established as a method of choice and are preferred because of their non-traumatic nature compared to conventional open surgery, their good long-term results and low complications rates.
The Interbalkan Medical Center is ready on a 24hour basis to treat any cases with the embolization method and with any kind of neurosurgical procedures deemed necessary. A great number of patients is annually treated in the hospital with results comparable to those of international medical centers.
Brain aneurysms occur in cerebral arteries points wherein the wall has either a structural defect or receives additional pressure from blood flow. They are not congenital anomalies, but they do develop over a number of years in an artery that has some of the abovementioned predisposing factors. They are usually shaped like a bag that develops on the wall of the artery. Here are some schematic examples of brain aneurysms:
During a brain aneurysm there is a risk of rupture and internal bleeding (subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hematoma, etc.), which might have serious repercussions for the patient. This is why when an aneurysm is diagnosed, it should be treated the soonest possible.
Aneurysms were traditionally treated with craniotomy and their eventual exclusion with one or more special clips. This is a very serious surgery associated with significant risks. This is why today it is replaced by embolization; a modern minimally invasive method, with excellent results and a very low complication rate.
Embolization is not conducted with craniotomy, but through the insertion of a thin micro-catheter through the femoral artery right inside the aneurysm sac. Then, special embolization coils are guided inside the aneurysm, until the sack is completely unclogged and the bloodstream stops.
Here are some schematic examples of aneurysm embolization
The results of aneurysm embolization are excellent, with very low complication rates and involve minimal patient discomfort. Thus, on a global level, the first choice for the treatment of brain aneurysms is embolization; while craniotomy remains a second choice for only a small percentage of cases that cannot be treated with embolization, for technical or anatomical reasons.