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News > Air Force doctors have new tool to cure aneurysm
AF neurosurgeon used special glue to cure patient's brain aneurysm
Maj. (Dr.) Christopher Koebbe, neurosurgeon, 59th Surgical Specialties Squadron (left), talks with Col. Amy Bechtold during a follow-up visit June 7 at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Dr. Koebbe used a special glue to cure Colonel Bechtold's brain aneurysm. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Campbell)
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Air Force doctors have new tool to cure aneurysm

Posted 6/9/2011   Updated 6/9/2011 Email story   Print story


by Sue Campbell
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2011 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maj. (Dr.) Christopher Koebbe, a neurosurgeon assigned to the 59th Surgical Specialties Squadron here, recently performed a unique procedure to treat a patient's aneurysm. Using a special liquid, he was able to cure his patient without having to resort to surgery.

Col. Amy Bechtold, a criminal trial judge stationed at Randolph AFB, Texas, was suffering with a ringing in her ears. Upon examination, her doctors discovered she had a cerebral aneurysm.

"A friend of mine died last year from a brain aneurysm, so I was very aware of the significance of my condition," said Colonel Bechtold.

A cerebral aneurysm is a bulging weak area in a vessel in the brain. It may be a congenital defect or a result of a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, or a head trauma. If the weak vessel ruptures, the result is disability or death 50 to 60 percent of the time.

A common treatment for a brain aneurysm is surgery, which often takes 6 hours, involving a 10-centimeter incision in the skull. Patients can expect about a 5-day stay in the hospital.

For Colonel Bechtold's aneurysm, Dr. Koebbe was able to use a rather new procedure, called endovascular aneurysm repair.

"Endovascular aneurysm repair involves inserting a catheter into an artery in the groin area and navigating it up into the brain cavity and inserting liquid into the aneurysm," Dr. Koebbe explained. "It's a special kind of glue that fills the void in the aneurysm and prevents bleeding and rupture."

This "glue," a liquid embolic system, solidifies when it hits the blood, creating a permanent cure.

"When Dr. Koebbe told me about the endovascular procedure it sounded much better than the old fashioned way where someone is poking around in your brain externally," Colonel Bechtold said.

Dr. Koebbe performed the endovascular aneurysm repair on May 31 at Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Instead of undergoing invasive brain surgery, Colonel Bechtold's procedure took one hour, involving a one-centimeter incision, and her hospital stay was only one day.

"Air Force radiologists, neurosurgeons, and neurologists are beginning to use this procedure," said Dr. Koebbe. "I hope it can be used more and more for people suffering from brain aneurysms at home and in war zones. It's one of the few times that I can tell a patient that they are definitely cured."

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