A surgeon at the University of Arizona Medical Center is the first in Southern Arizona to treat a giant aneurysm with a new lifesaving technique.

Using a new minimally invasive treatment called the 'Pipeline Embolization Device', now available at UAMC, Travis Dumont, MD, assistant professor and director of the Neurovascular Program at U of A's University of Arizona Department of Surgery, was able to successfully treat the giant aneurysm with less risk of stroke or brain damage. Dr. Dumont is the only neurosurgeon in Southern Arizona trained in the use of this flow diversion stent technology.

Dr. Dumont used the technique on Green Valley realtor Ann Lessard, after she noticed vision loss in her left eye. An MRI revealed the cause as a giant aneurysm pressing on her optic nerve. While most aneurysms are about the size of a pea, hers had grown almost as large as a golf ball. Had the aneurysm ruptured, Lessard, 63, could have faced lifelong disability or death.

"The aneurysm could have killed me in a second," Lessard said. "Dr. Dumont is the hero in this. He pulled me through something that could have been terrifying with very little anxiety. I am really grateful to enjoy life today. Every day is a gift."

An aneurysm is a bulging, weak area in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to the brain. Ruptures often are devastating, causing brain hemorrhage. In about half of the cases, patients do not survive, and about a third of survivors experience long-term mental and physical deficits.

"Aneurysms tend to cause no symptoms until they cause blindness or rupture," Dr. Dumont said. "Ann's was likely there for years."

Prior to the development of the Pipeline Embolization Device, Lessard's large aneurysm likely would have been treated through a craniotomy, where the skull is opened, requiring a significant recovery. She likely would have been in the intensive care unit two to three days and in the hospital for a week. "It's a huge recovery process," Dr. Dumont said of the traditional surgery.

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