The problem: Brain aneurysms are enlarged areas of the arteries that can rupture and cause bleeding, a stroke, and even death. Surgery is an option to treat some unruptured aneurysms, while many small aneurysms can be safely left untreated. But determining which route is best is no easy task.
The goal: “We need to come up with reliable biomarkers that can tell us which aneurysms need surgery and which can be left alone,” says Bharathi Jagadeesan, an associate professor in the Medical School’s departments of Radiology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, and a University of Minnesota Health interventional neuroradiologist.
What the U is doing about it: Jagadeesan has teamed up with U colleagues in neurosurgery, aerospace engineering, and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR). The group’s ongoing research involves scanning patients’ aneurysms using a high-powered 7 Tesla MRI machine at the CMRR. The scanner produces a high-resolution image of the aneurysm and the blood flowing through it, which is then 3D-printed and tested using engineering instruments.
Why it matters: If doctors can identify blood flow patterns linked to higher-risk aneurysms, they can make more accurate treatment recommendations. “We want to be able to say to a patient, ‘Your aneurysm looks similar to those that have remained stable for years, so let’s stay put for now,’” says Jagadeesan. “Or we’ll have the evidence to say, ‘The pattern of blood flow in your aneurysm is a bit concerning; perhaps we should treat it.’”
How philanthropy makes a difference: The research is supported by the Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund.
(Photo of Bharathi Jagadeesan by Scott Streble)