Spring 2006 Issue

New Intracranial Stent Used To Prevent Strokes
Practice Neurosurgeon One Of The First In The Southeast To Use Wingspan™ Stent System

Joe Bernard, M.D., of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, was one of the first physicians in the region to use a new, potentially lifesaving stent to open clogged arteries in the brain. If left untreated, such blockages can lead to a stroke. The new device, called the Wingspan™ Stent System, is the only device available in the U.S. for the treatment of intracranial atherosclerotic disease (ICAD) or blockages in the brain’s own blood vessels. This condition causes strokes in approximately 60,000 Americans each year.

“I believe lives will be saved and significant disability prevented through use of this new technology,”
- Joe Bernard, M.D.

The Gateway™ PTA Balloon Catheter provides controlled, low-pressure inflation to open the blocked vessel in the brain. The Wingspan stent is made of nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium, which puts less pressure on the blood vessel when it expands.
Wingspan is indicated for patients who have failed medical therapy and have a blockage greater than or equal to 50% of the vessel. Until recently the primary treatment for patients who already experienced a stroke was the use of blood-thinning medications.

Before Wingspan, intracranial stenting was not a preferred option. Stents designed for the heart are stiff and difficult to maneuver in the brain. These coronary stents are also made of steel, which can injure the brain’s more fragile blood vessels. The Wingspan device is specially engineered to navigate through intracranial vessels, which are smaller, and more twisted than cardiac vessels. The Wingspan stent is also made of nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium, which puts less pressure on the blood vessel when it expands.

The actual procedure is similar to stenting in the heart or carotid artery. A catheter is inserted into an artery in the upper leg. Using digital image guidance, the catheter is navigated through the blood vessels to the site of the blockage in the brain. The Gateway™ PTA Balloon Catheter is then inflated to push away the plaque that is causing the blockage and the stent is deployed to hold the vessel open (see below).

The FDA granted the Wingspan Stent System a Humanitarian Device Exemption approval last August.This exemption is designed to allow for devices that have no alternative treatment options.

For more information about intracranial stenting or other neurovascular services offered by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, call 800-344-6716
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