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A surgical technique that involves accessing some types of aneurysms through the eyebrow is now available at Froedtert Hospital, the academic medical center of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network. 

This approach uses a smaller incision and offers faster healing than other methods. 

Sherry Boyd, a kindergarten teacher from Muskego, knows how helpful this new technique is. She was first diagnosed in March 2021 with an anterior communicating artery aneurysm, a life-threatening bulge in a blood vessel in her brain, after it had ruptured. The aneurysm initially was treated with endovascular coiling, a common, minimally invasive procedure in which platinum coils are threaded into the aneurysm to halt dangerous blood flow. 

“The procedure was successful, but one-third of all people who undergo coiling need additional treatment,” said Hirad Hedayat, MD, neurosurgeon and MCW faculty member. “Sherry had a follow-up angiogram that revealed ‘the neck’ of the aneurysm was refilling with blood.” She also was struggling with short-term memory loss, cloudy thinking and fatigue, which made her hesitant to return to work. 

Dr. Hedayat recommended clipping the aneurysm — using a small metal device functioning like a clothespin to close the neck of the aneurysm. He said this is a durable, time-tested option, but typically involves shaving the patient’s head and accessing the brain through a large incision at the top of the skull. However, the location of Sherry’s aneurysm meant that Dr. Hedayat could enter through a one-inch incision in her right eyebrow, which was not even shaved for the procedure. One of the biggest advantages is that less of the brain is exposed, which speeds healing and lessens complications after surgery. 

In the days after the surgery, Sherry saw dramatic improvement. 

“It was like night and day,” she said.  The memory problems, nagging headaches and fatigue all evaporated. A week after surgery, she felt good enough to return to the classroom with her kindergarteners. And she has no scar. 

“When he said he could go in through the eyebrow, it felt like Dr. Hedayat really cared and wanted to offer a surgery that was better for me than what’s usually done,” Sherry said.

Learn more about eyebrow clipping and other brain aneursym treatment options through our Stroke and Neurovascular Program.

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