New procedure at Sacred Heart offers alternative to open brain surgery

Michael Brown's Story

A 45-year-old Glide resident is feeling much better after a frightening health scare. At the end of December, Michael Brown’s car broke down after a long day of work. He was loading the vehicle on to a trailer when he suddenly experienced a massive headache, as if someone hit him with a hammer. He reached around to the back of his head, expecting to see blood, but didn’t find any. The crushing headache continued.
Michael called his supervisor and longtime friend and asked for help because something was wrong and his vision was fading. His supervisor then raced over to help him. Paramedics arrived soon after and took Michael to Mercy Medical Center and then to Sacred Heart at RiverBend in Springfield.
An MRI (photo, right) revealed that Michael had a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain that usually forms before birth. AVM’s can rupture, allowing blood to leak into the brain or surrounding tissues, which can lead to stroke, severe disability and even death.

At Sacred Heart, Michael and his wife learned that AVM’s may be treated in a couple of different ways, including open brain surgery. One option for him would be a new procedure which would repair the AVM and get Michael out of the hospital faster without surgery.
Michael tried the new procedure using the Onyx Liquid Embolic System. Onyx is a liquid material that is delivered by a micro catheter directly into the AVM. Once in place, the liquid quickly transforms into a solid, sealing off the vessels in the AVM from blood flow, reducing the risk of rupture. The photo on the right shows that Michael's AVM (on the right side of the image) has been sealed off completely. 
With this new procedure, Michael avoided open surgery, which often has higher risks of complications. Instead, he had an excellent outcome was back home about a week later. After taking it easy for about another week, Michael was back to work full-time.
While he did have to spend New Year’s Eve in the hospital, Michael expects the rest of 2012 to be a healthy one. He is scheduled to return to the hospital for a six month checkup, and if all goes well, Michael says, “I’ll be good to go!”