Great review of new brain aneurysm treatments – Endovascular Today

Endovascular Today – Endovascular Advances in the Treatment of Cerebral Aneurysms (February 2017)

This article is a great overview of the development of new neuroendovascular techniques and technology for the treatment of cerebral aneurysms.  I am proud to say that Tallahassee Neurological Clinic and Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare were involved in clinical trials for some of these devices (PulseRider and Barrel) and we routinely use Pipeline Flex in our practice.

Check out the full article by clicking the link below.

Source: Endovascular Today – Endovascular Advances in the Treatment of Cerebral Aneurysms (February 2017)

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What’s special about the TMH Comprehensive Stroke Center?

Why is it important that TMH is a Comprehensive Stroke Center?

Comprehensive Stroke Centers (CSCs) are the most advanced hospitals for providing stroke care. Not only have they demonstrated excellence at caring for ischemic stroke and administering TPA, Comprehensive Stroke Centers have gone the extra mile to specialize in stroke diagnosis and treatment, including treatment for all forms of stroke. The only facility in Northwest Florida, South Georgia, and Southeast Alabama with Comprehensive Stroke Center services is Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH).

Primary Stroke Centers (PSCs) can be thought of as the minimum requirement for stroke care. PSCs are able to diagnose and treat ischemic stroke. Most PSCs in the region rely on teleneurology, or neurologists available by computer or telephone, to help diagnose and treat patients. Comprehensive Stroke Centers, on the other hand, have in house neurology and neurosurgery services. TMH has 4 employed hospital stroke neurologists as well as 4 board-certified neurosurgeons at Tallahassee Neurological Clinic.

Drs. Lawson and Oliver. Board-certified neurosurgeons with neuroendovascular certification (CAST certification) at the TMH Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Comprehensive Stroke Centers not only provide excellent care for ischemic stroke, but they also provide advanced stroke care services. This includes care for ruptured cerebral aneurysms, AVMs, and other forms of hemorrhagic stroke. CSCs perform cutting edge procedures, such as thrombectomy for ischemic stroke due to large vessel occlusion as well as brain aneurysm treatment. They generally qualify as high volume treatment centers for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, which means they generally have better outcomes than other centers that treat brain aneurysms.

Dr. Lawson was one of the first 50 individuals certified in Neuroendovascular Surgery by the Society of Neurological Surgeons.

Endovascular Neurosurgery (also known as Neuroendovascular Surgery or Neurointerventional Surgery) is a cornerstone in the Comprehensive Stroke Center model of care. At TMH we have two board-certified neurosurgeons, Drs. Lawson and Oliver, who are also certified in Neuroendovascular Surgery by the Society of Neurological Surgeons (CAST Certification). TMH is the only facility in the region with such highly trained and experienced neurosurgeons. The CAST Neuroendovascular Certification is generally accepted as the highest level of certification for Neuroendovascular Surgery, and the Society of Neurointerventional Surgery endorses this CAST certification. No other physicians in the area have this certification, including those in Pensacola, FL, and Dothan, AL.

Drs. Lawson and Oliver are partners at Tallahassee Neurological Clinic, a multispecialty group practice of neurosurgeons, neurologists, and pain management physicians. Dr. Lawson has been in practice in Tallahassee since 2012, and he was the first neurosurgeon in the region to perform brain aneurysm coiling or thrombectomy for the treatment of acute stroke. He helped establish the TMH Neuroendovascular Lab and the TMH Comprehensive Stroke Center. Dr. Oliver joined Dr. Lawson in 2013. As of now they share call for Neuroendovascular services for the region. In 2017, we expect another endovascular neurosurgeon to begin in Tallahassee.

Fig. 1. Right MCA aneurysm prior to treatment.
Fig. 2. Right MCA aneurysm at 6 months post treatment with a novel stent, placed at the TMH Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The neurosurgeons at TNC have a robust neurosurgical research component that includes research in stroke and brain aneurysm treatment. Neuroendovascular Surgery is a rapidly evolving field, and devices that were made just 10 years ago are now obsolete. Drs. Lawson and Oliver are active in Neuroendovascular research and have several open trials for novel devices and treatments. We feel that offering access to cutting edge medical research is a key component to a successful Comprehensive Stroke Center.

For more information about the TMH Comprehensive Stroke Center, click here.

What is Aneurysm Coiling?

Cerebral aneurysm coiling, or aneurysm embolization, is a procedure to treat brain aneurysms so that they cannot bleed. This procedure is performed by highly trained endovascular neurosurgeons (or neuroinerventional surgeons) in specialized facilities, like Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Fig. 1. CT Angiogram showing a large 1.1 cm aneurysm (yellow arrow), which explains this patient’s subarachnoid hemorrhage (not shown).
Fig. 2. Diagnostic cerebral angiogram showing the right vertebral artery and basilar circulation. The large aneurysm is at the origin of the PICA vessel.

Aneurysm coiling is a minimally invasive technique for treating a brain aneurysm, where the entire procedure is performed from inside the blood vessel (an endovascular procedure). This is in contrast to the other method of treating brain aneurysm, surgical clipping. Traditionally, brain aneurysms were treated with open surgery, called clipping, where a small metal clip was placed at the neck of an aneurysm to prevent bleeding. Clipping has been the standard treatment of aneurysms since the 1960’s, and the procedure is highly invasive. Clipping involves making an incision on the scalp, removing part of the skull (a craniotomy), and then placing a clip at the base of the aneurysm.

In the 1990’s coiling was developed as a minimally invasive technique to treat brain aneurysms, and it was the first viable alternative to clipping surgery. Coiling “fixes” a brain aneurysm from inside the blood vessel, using long catheters and devices that are navigated to a brain aneurysm from a blood vessel in the patient’s leg. In much the same way that cardiologists treat heart disease with “heart catheterization” the endovascular neurosurgeon treats brain aneurysms with catheterization based endovascular procedures, or coiling.

At TMH we treat both ruptured brain aneurysms (see my post on

Fig. 3. Unsubtracted angiogram during balloon-assisted coil embolization of the ruptured PICA aneurysm. The blue line denotes the location of the parent vertebral artery as well as the small PICA blood vessel and the aneurysm. Coils can be seen in the aneurysm. The yellow line denotes the location of a balloon catheter that is helping to hold the coils in the aneurysm and protect the parent vertebral artery.
Fig. 3. Unsubtracted angiogram during balloon-assisted coil embolization of the ruptured PICA aneurysm. The blue line denotes the location of the parent vertebral artery as well as the small PICA blood vessel and the aneurysm. Coils can be seen in the aneurysm. The yellow line denotes the location of a balloon catheter that is helping to hold the coils in the aneurysm and protect the parent vertebral artery.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage) as well as unruptured aneurysms. Patients who have a ruptured aneurysm have subarachnoid hemorrhage, and they are often critically ill and in the intensive care unit. Many patients who undergo coiling have unruptured aneurysms, or aneurysms that have not bled. The goal for these patients is to reduce or eliminate the risk of bleeding from the aneurysm in the future by treating high risk aneurysms with coiling.

The goal of coiling is to fill the aneurysm with platinum coils, or small devices that cause blood within the aneurysm to clot. This eliminates blood flow in the aneurysm and prevents future bleeding.

Most coiling procedures are done with the patient under general anesthesia using a biplane fluoroscopy unit. This specialized x-ray equipment is very similar to that seen in a cardiac cath lab, but it has additional features for cerebrovascular interventions.

The first step in any coiling procedure is to perform a diagnostic angiogram. This involves taking high resolution images of the blood vessels of the brain, to identify and understand the anatomy of an aneurysm. Next, a guide catheter is navigated from the femoral artery in the leg, up the aorta, and into one of the major blood vessels supplying the brain.  The guide catheter is usually positioned in one of the carotid or vertebral arteries.

Fig. 4. Final result after balloon-assisted coiling with excellent embolization of the aneurysm.
Fig. 4. Final result after balloon-assisted coiling with excellent embolization of the aneurysm.

After placing the guide catheter, a microcatheter is navigated within the guide catheter and then up into the blood vessels of the brain over a very small wire. This microcatheter is then carefully advanced into the aneurysm. Next, coils are placed within the aneurysm through the microcatheter. Once the aneurysm is treated, the catheters are removed and the patient is awakened.

Fig. 5a. Right middle cerebral artery aneurysm before stent-assisted coil embolization.
Fig. 5b. Right middle cerebral artery aneurysm at 6-month follow up after stent-assisted coiling with an investigational stent. There is excellent occlusion of the aneurysm.

There have been numerous advances in coiling technology over the last 10-15 years. The pace of innovation in endovascular neurosurgery is astounding, as many of the devices on the market just 10 years ago are obsolete. At TMH, we are fortunate to be able to participate in advanced device trials, helping evaluate the next generation of medical devices. Drs. Lawson and Oliver perform traditional coiling as well as advanced stent-assisted coiling, balloon-assisted coiling, and embolization using flow diversion devices.

At Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, the region’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, aneurysm we perform roughly 100 aneurysm embolization procedures per year. Studies have shown that “high volume treatment centers,” or hospitals that care for over 50 aneurysm patients per year, have better outcomes than lower volume centers.

For more information about aneurysm treatment, check out the brain aneurysm foundation.

TMH Receives Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus Recognition

TMH Stroke Team with American Stroke Association Award

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital received the American Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus recognition for excellence and consistency in compliance with stroke center quality measures.  Great job team!

TMH Becomes the Region’s ONLY Comprehensive Stroke Center!

June 7, 2016 – TMH announces their new designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Agency for Healthcare Administration, making TMH the only Comprehensive Stroke Center in the region.  TMH has received the American Stroke Association “Get with the Guidelines” Gold Plus recognition for stroke care, and we are proud to be the only hospital within hundreds of miles with the Comprehensive Stroke Center designation.

Please see the full press release here:

Dr. Lawson and his partner, Dr. Oliver, are the only board-certified neurosurgeons in the region with advanced certification in endovascular neurosurgery (CAST certification).  They treat nearly 100 brain aneurysms per year, perform cutting edge thrombectomy procedures for the treatment of acute stroke, and countless other cerebrovascular procedures.

Together, TMH and Tallahassee Neurological Clinic are setting the standard for stroke and cerebrovascular care in Florida’s panhandle, south Alabama, and south Georgia.

Neurovascular Lab celebrates first birthday!



In September of 2012 Tallahassee Memorial Hospital opened a state-of-the-art facility for performing complex neuro-endovascular procedures.  One year later, 167 cases have been performed, dramatically improving the quality and availability of cerebrovascular care in the region.

Since the opening of this facility, we have successfully treated the following conditions:
Acute Stroke
Ruptured Brain Aneurysms
Unruptured Brain Aneurysms
Arteriovenous Malformations
Carotid Stenosis
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

TMH Features Dr. Lawson and cerebrovascular services in Annual Report

Dr. Lawson and the newly opened cerebrovascular lab are detailed in the 2013 TMH Annual Report.

State-of-the-art brain surgery center comes to Tallahassee

The Tallahassee Democrat reports on the new, state-of-the-art neurovascular suite that has opened at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.  This new facility represents a dramatic advance in the level of care that can be provided regionally, including cutting edge treatment for brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, and acute stroke intervention.  It is the first facility of its kind in the region built for the purpose of treating vascular disorders of the brain and spinal cord.  Please visit the Tallahassee Democrat to read more.