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Software program allows neurosurgeons to understand blood flow using MRI

Posted on April 20, 2006

The Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch (CINN) is one of two sites participating in a free study utilizing innovative technology.

CINN is seeking Chicago-area volunteers to help determine the normal range of blood flow to the brain in healthy individuals. The study results will give physicians a better understanding of how blood flow in the brain is affected by stroke, aneurysm and other cerebrovascular disorders, some of the most debilitating and deadly diseases society faces. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, causing approximately 150,000 deaths per year.

The study utilizes a test called Non-invasive Optimal Vessel Analysis (NOVA) from VasSol, Inc. NOVA is the first technology to allow physicians to quantify blood flow in vessels non-invasively.

NOVA takes the images from a magnetic resonance scan and creates a three-dimensional view of the patient’s vascular tree. According to Demetrius Lopes, MD, Medical Director of the neurovascular program at CINN and one of the leading neurosurgeons in the country in diagnosing and treating neurovascular disease, NOVA allows surgeons to map the major blood vessels in the brain, as well as many of the smaller, connecting branches, and to ascertain actual flow rates. This information is used to diagnose neurovascular disease and take appropriate action to prevent the onset of stroke, or rupture of an aneurysm, for example.

CINN is one of only 12 sites in the country to offer NOVA to help diagnose and treat stroke and cerebrovascular disease.

Volunteers participating in the free study will undergo an MRI of the brain and a NOVA test, which will take about an hour. To be eligible, volunteers must be between the ages of 18 and 80. After the test, Lopes and his team will review the results. Only those volunteers whose results warrant further medical follow up will be contacted and referred back to their primary care physician for treatment.

Anthony Curcio, CEO of VasSol, Inc, indicated that previous studies using NOVA have shown that about five percent of those undergoing the test were found to have a previously undetected aneurysm. A brain aneurysm is a bulging area on the wall of a brain artery very much like a thin balloon or weak spot on an inner tube.

Curcio pointed out that NOVA is helping to improve the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease by providing additional information not available through any other current diagnostic test. In some cases, NOVA may also provide an alternative to more invasive tests. After a surgical intervention, many patients undergo a catheter angiogram, a test that requires both injection of contrast dye and radiation exposure. With the availability of NOVA, some patients may only need to have a non-invasive MRI.

To find out about participating in the free study at the CINN, contact Michelle Catalano at (773) 250-0422.

The Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch is one of the nation’s leading organizations for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of people with brain and spine disorders. Originally founded in 1987, CINN is one of the Midwest’s largest teams of neurosurgeons known for their pioneering treatments in minimally invasive techniques. Through a network of seven hospitals throughout Chicagoland, CINN treats more patients with brain tumors and spine disorders than any other physician group in Illinois.