First-of-Its Kind Surgery in the U.S. Performed at Lahey

Minimally-invasive aneurysm procedures underscore need for Innovation Center

Constant painful headaches dragged Kerry Casey down for days at a time. It turns out the former Lahey nurse had two brain aneurysms behind her right eye. The neurointerventional radiology team at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center operated on her using the Surpass Evolve Flow Diverter system. This technology was based on an original invention by Lahey’s own Ajay K. Wakhloo, MD. It was the first time this procedure was performed using this system in the United States following FDA approval in July, and it happened right here in Burlington.

The diagnosis was terrifying for Kerry. “You hear ‘brain aneurysm’ and you immediately think you have this ticking time bomb in your head,” she said. But meeting with her care team at Lahey, including Dr. Wakhloo, put her at ease. “I was just so impressed with all of his research, and all of his work as a physician on brain aneurysms. I even said to my husband, ‘I don’t know how this worked out, but I think I have one of the best doctors in the country.’”

Flow diversion is a technique in which a tiny catheter is used to place a tubular stent-like implant into the brain blood vessels where an aneurysm has formed. The specialist inserts the catheter and the minimally-invasive flow diverter into an artery in the wrist or the groin, which means there is no large incision, and the patient recovers much more quickly. This device diverts the blood flow away from the aneurysm. In time, new cells grow on the flow diverter. This serves to seal the aneurysm, heal the vessel and make the aneurysm unlikely to rupture. Flow diversion procedures have a 90-100 percent cure rate.

The new, cutting-edge device used in these surgeries received FDA approval only this past July. During the surgeries, Dr. Wakhloo and his team used audio/visual equipment to allow a doctor in Toronto who recently treated some patients using this technology, to share his experience during the operation. Lahey experts also broadcast live from the operating room, so doctors and trainees around the world could observe and learn about the surgery and new technology – a reflection of Lahey’s educational mission.

Kerry spent only one night in the hospital. She has not had a headache since her surgery, and she’s back to walking three miles a day and doing yoga. “I feel really blessed that this was found, that I was able to have this flow diverter placed, and it was all done fairly painlessly,” she said.

Read about Lahey’s innovative Image Guided  Therapy Innovation Center.