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Types of Research Activities

Within the Department of Neurosurgery itself, the current research activities can be grouped in five main categories: 

  • Spine Disorders
  • Sterotactic Radiosurgery
  • Stent Systems (Endovascular)
  • Aneurysms
  • Cranial Surgery


Spine Disorders

Disorders of the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots in the spinal column are very frequently evaluated and diagnosed in our Neurosurgery Department. All of our neurosurgeons are fully trained spine surgeons and evaluate and treat the full range of spinal disorders ranging from spinal cord tumors, herniated discs and spinal deformity.

Low back pain is one of the most significant health problems. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 70-85 percent of all people have back pain at some time in their life and it is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people younger than 45 years old.

Between 1979 and 1990, rates of hospitalizations with cervical and lumbar spine surgery increased markedly among both sexes and for different categories of spine surgery.

Approximately 250,000 – 400,000 individuals in the United States have spinal cord injuries. Every year, approximately 11,000 people sustain new spinal cord injuries – that’s thirty new injuries every day. Most of these people are injured in auto and sports accidents, falls, and industrial mishaps. An estimated 60 percent of these individuals are 30 years old or younger, and the majority of them are men.



Sterotactic Radiosurgery

Brain metastasis is the most common intracranial tumor, with an estimated annual incidence of more than 100,000 cases. In 20 to 40 percent of patients with cancer, metastatic lesions travel to the brain. On the basis of historical studies, medical treatment with glucocorticoids alone yields a life expectancy of less than 3 months. The addition of WBRT improves survival to 3 to 6 months. Aggressive local treatments such as resection and radiosurgery in combination with WBRT can achieve median survival times of 9 to 12 months in some patients.

In patients with brain metastases, it is unclear whether adding up-front whole-brain radiation therapy to stereotactic radiosurgery has beneficial effects on mortality or neurologic function compared with SRS alone.



Endovascular Stent Systems

The stent system is used to open blocked arteries in the brain, allowing blood to flow to the brain. It consists of a stent, a delivery system, and a balloon catheter. The calloon catheter is used to open the blockage in brain arteries prior to inserting the stent. The stent is the permanent implant that is placed in the artery to open the blockage.

The stent is a self-expanding, metal mesh in the shape of a tube. The delivery system is a small catheter and is provided with the stent pre-loaded. The balloon catheter is a small catheter with a tiny balloon on the tip.

The balloon catheter opens the blocked artery to improve blood flow. The stent provides a barrier to reduce the risk of recurrent blockage or narrowing of the artery and to support the artery wall.

A microdelivery stent system is designed to prevent the rupture of an aneurysm in the brain (an intracranial aneurysm). This is used on patients who cannot take blood-thinning (antiplatelet and/or anticoagulation) drugs that help prevent blood-clotting.



Aneurysms

Our research division is dedicated to accelerating advances in the study of brain aneurysm treatment and prevention through clinical research. It intends to educate all concerned on the disease and treatment options in order to improve and lengthen the lives of those at risk and affected.

Studies show that about two percent of the United States population has brain aneurysms. Approximately 3-6 million people in the United States have unruptured brain aneurysms.

The incidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage from a ruptured brain aneurysm is about 12/100,000. The annual prevalence of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in the United States exceeds 30,000 people. Unfortunately, for those people who suffer a hemorrhage, the outcome is usually poor.

Half of those people die within minutes of hemorrhaging. About 12 percent of people suffering a SAH die before reaching medical attention and about another 30-40 percent will die within 30 days of the SAH. The remaining survivors, depending upon the level of hemorrhage, usually live with severe long-term deficits.



Cranial surgery

Because craniotomy is a procedure that is utilized for several conditions and diseases, statistical information for the procedure itself is not available. However, because craniotomy is most commonly performed to remove a brain tumor, statistics concerning this condition are given. Approximately 90% of primary brain cancers occur in adults, more commonly in males between 55 and 65 years of age.

Tumors in children peak between the ages of three and 12. Brain tumors are presently the most common cancer in children (four out of 100,000).