Neurointerventional Surgery

A new approach to cerebrovascular care

Neurological problems involving the blood vessels in your head, neck and spine, such as stroke or aneurysms, used to require open brain surgery. Scripps offers the most advanced technology to diagnose and treat these conditions using minimally invasive techniques including neurointerventional surgery.

Neurointerventional surgery uses an angiogram—an imaging technique that measures blood flow in the brain —to diagnose and treat a variety of cerebrovascular conditions. A neurointerventional procedure is a form of endovascular surgery, which means the surgeon inserts tiny tubes known as microcatheters into the large artery near the groin. The catheter is then guided through the body into the vessels that lead to the brain. Neurointerventional surgeons can use these microcatheters combined with angiography to simultaneously identify, diagnose and treat a cerebrovascular condition.Using neurointerventional measures has many benefits over open surgery. These procedures are minimally invasive, so patients have reduced pain and scarring, fewer risks for complications, and faster healing times. In addition, because neurointerventional surgery can go directly to the affected area, it can increase the window of time needed to safely treat an ischemic stroke from three to eight hours.

Neurointerventional procedures

Neurointerventional procedures for brain conditions include:

  • Intra-arterial infusion of thrombolytics
    Thrombolytic therapy is used to treat ischemic strokes. A microcatheter is guided by a surgeon to the blood clot and clot-busting medication is released directly into the clot and then a mechanical retrieval device is guided by the surgeon to physically remove the clot.
  • Angioplasty and stenting of the carotid, vertebral and intracranial arteries
    During an angioplasty procedure, the surgeon uses microcatheters to place a stent inside a blocked artery to allow blood to flow properly.
  • Embolization
    An embolization procedure passes platinum wire coils or a small latex balloon through a catheter into an artery to prevent blood from passing through it. This procedure can be used to treat aneurysms, tumors and vascular malformations.
  • Vasodilator infusion
    An infusion of medication directly into a spasming blood vessel (called vasospasm) to prevent the blood vessel from collapsing.

Neurointerventional surgery is also used in spinal procedures including:

  • Percutaneous vertebroplasty
    A neurointerventional surgeon uses a needle to inject bone cement into the spine to treat compression fractures of the spine.
  • Kyphoplasty
    Similar to vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty uses a small balloon in the interior of the vertebra to push apart the fractured area and restore it to its natural shape before inserting bone cement.
  • Minimally invasive lumbar decompression (MILD)
    This minimally invasive procedure uses a small incision to remove portions of the tissue around the spine that causes a compression of the nerves known as spinal stenosis.


Scripps Health offers neurointerventional surgery at the following locations in San Diego County:

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