Glue fixes NJ mother's brain aneurysm

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY; December 14, 2009

Melanie Lucas went to her doctor complaining of memory problems she thought might be from Lyme Disease.

MRI scans showed that the memory portions of her brain were fine, but there was another danger lurking.... Two aneurysms.

"I was totally caught off guard," Melanie remembers of the moment.

"To think that it was there and anything could have happened," she says.

Inside her head, a crucial artery had a dangerous bulge, one that could kill her if it broke open.

"45 percent of patients don't survive - they don't make it to call 911. Another 30-percent will end up with a permanent disability. It's what we call a silent killer," says her doctor.

Dr. Erol Veznodaroglu, or Dr. Vez, as he is called, of Capital Health says the stents and coils he often uses for other brain aneurysms weren't good options for Melanie.

Melanie's main aneursym was large, and he was concerned those other devices might tear through weak blood vessel walls in the future.

Open surgery was ruled out because it would be too risky.

So he decided to use Onyx, a special medical glue.

It's a chemical cousin to "Crazy Glue," the acrylic adhesive known for its sticking power.

Dr. Vez ran a catheter with a balloon through the aneurysm.

He inflated the balloon to hold the vessel in place.

Then he injected the Onyx glue to fill the aneurysm.

The glue hardened, strengthening that blood vessel.

Melanie is fine now - and relieved the problem was caught in time.

She says she's, "Just so grateful to be here with my children."

Still Melanie says this has been a wake-up call for her. She has quit smoking, which Dr. Vez says is the number one risk factor for enlarged aneuryms and recurring ones.

Her children have also been screened for aneurysms, because there is a family history of them. Melanie's mother had 2 strokes, and her grandmother had an aneurysm that ruptured.

"She was on the phone with her financial advisor, and was very angry with him when it happened," Melanie remembers. Her grandmother survived, thanks to surgery.

The Onyx medical glue was FDA-approved for aneuryms in 2007. It's currently being used at just a few centers in our area.

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