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Physicians and engineers pool resources to prevent stroke

HOUSTON, May 1, 2006 A professor at the University of Houston and his research students are working with physicians and scientists at the Methodist Neurological Institute on new technology to help identify which brain aneurysms are at highest risk of rupture and could cause a stroke.

Improving treatment of cerebral aneurysms, which are ballooning weak spots in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain, is at the center of this joint research. The goal of their study is to develop a fully-integrated computational medical tool that will be useful in helping to select patients for treatment whose aneurysms are most likely to rupture.

Ralph Metcalfe, a mechanical engineering professor at UH and deputy director of the UH biomedical engineering program and his graduate student, Aishwarya Mantha, work on this project with a Methodist team consisting of Drs. Charles Strother and Goetz Benndorf, interventional neuroradiologists, and Christof Karmonik, a researcher at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute.

Using computer simulations of blood flow in realistic geometric models of aneurysms, some blood flow characteristics have been identified that may contribute to aneurysm formation. These findings are described in a paper titled "Hemodynamics in a Cerebral Artery Before and After the Formation of an Aneurysm," appearing in the May issue of the American Journal of Neuroradiology, a scientific journal that publishes original articles dealing with the clinical imaging, endovascular therapy and basic science of the central and peripheral nervous system.

"According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cerebral aneurysms affect up to six percent of the U.S. adult population," Metcalfe said. "Most aneurysms don't rupture, but if they do, the results are fatal in about 50 percent of the cases. The question is how to predict who is most at risk."

Since treatment of aneurysms is associated with some risk, Metcal
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