Deadly brain hemorrhages are the subject of focused ultrasound research being performed by Stephen Monteith, M.D., a senior neurosurgery resident at the University of Virginia.

Monteith is one of nine grant recipients recently announced by the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). The prestigious NREF research fellowships provide training for neurosurgeons who are preparing for academic careers as clinician investigators.

For his fellowship in the Cerebrovascular Section, commencing in July 2010, Monteith will investigate the in vivo use of MR-guided FUS to treat intracerebral hematomas, which are ­ clots that form within the brain tissue due to ruptured blood vessels caused by a stroke or traumatic injury.

“Modern surgical approaches to evacuate hematomas have focused on minimally invasive techniques to limit injury to the surrounding brain caused by the surgical procedure. It has been demonstrated in vitro that focused ultrasound energy can liquefy a formed blood clot,” Monteith says.

“Our research will assess the effectiveness of using transcranial MR-guided FUS to achieve sonothrombolysis (liquification) of ICH in vivo, thereby facilitating a more rapid decompression of the brain and complete removal of the blood clot”

Secondary insult to the brain after the initial hemorrhage is caused by the breakdown of the blood clot as it is absorbed by the body over time. Monteith believes that sonothrombolysis will prove advantageous compared to current treatments by allowing a more rapid removal of the clot, and therefore decreasing the toxic blood breakdown products within the brain.

Approximately 15 million people worldwide suffer strokes each year. An estimated ten to 15 percent of strokes result from an ICH. Only 38 percentof ICH patients survive the first year, making it the most deadly and debilitating form of stroke.

Written by Ellen C., McKenna

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