A stroke occurs when blood flow to your brain is inhibited, and if you suffer one stroke your chances of having another go up dramatically. Many people want to do everything in their power after a stroke to prevent the onset of another one, but a number of factors are at play and even changing your lifestyle to accommodate more exercise and a healthier diet may not be enough. Sometimes, neurosurgery is necessary to ensure someone can safely get back to their life after a stroke.
But how do you know whether or not you’ll need brain surgery after a stroke? We try to answer that question as best we can in today’s blog.
The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke, and it occurs when something blocks an artery that takes blood to your brain. Oftentimes, this blockage is caused by plaque deposits in your arterial walls that break loose and inhibit healthy blood flow through the artery. A healthy diet, regular exercise and quitting smoking can all help contribute to arterial health, but that may not be enough in the wake of a stroke.
In order to determine if brain surgery is something that should be performed following a stroke, your neurosurgeon will conduct some tests. A few of the more common tests that can help them make their determination include:
A CT Scan – This involves taking x-rays from several different angles to get a complete picture of the arterial blockage.
A Cerebral Angiogram – Dye is placed in an artery so that the flow and blockage of the artery can be viewed.
Ultrasound – An ultrasound can use soundwaves to produce an image of the artery.
Using these tests, a neurosurgeon can get a great view of the blockage and make a call that is in the best interest of the patient. All determinations will be based using all the individualized factors at hand, but oftentimes surgery is recommended if the arterial blockage is greater than 50 percent.
With that said, even if there is a concerning blockage, it may not mean that surgery is the perfect solution. Brain surgery is a complex operation and patients with certain health conditions may find that the risks do not outweigh the potential benefits. Patients with heart problems, high blood pressure, blockages in other arteries, or health conditions like kidney problems or diabetes may not be recommended for surgery after a stroke.
There are a number of different surgeries used to address brain blockages, and your doctor can walk you through your options based on your condition and any potential risks. Some common procedures include:
Carotid Endarterectomy – This will involve opening the artery, rerouting the blood, clearing out the blockage and then stitching the artery back together.
Carotid Angioplasty – This involves putting a small tube into an artery in your leg, which will then travel up to the blockage. A small balloon in the tube is then inflated to widen the artery and allow blood to flow more easily.
Intra-arterial Thrombolysis – A catheter is inserted into an artery and guided to the blockage. Medicine is then released directly to the blood clot, which will work to dissolve it.
Mechanical Thrombectomy – A catheter is inserted with a special wire cage attached to the end that can remove the blockage and return blood flow to normal.
For more information about brain surgery after a stroke, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.