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Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 00:54 GMT 01:54 UK
Pioneering scan saves patient
Conventional scans failed to reveal the problem
A man who suffered internal bleeding in the brain underwent a potentially life-saving operation after a 3-D scanner was used for the first time in the UK.

Stephen Smith, 24, was taken to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was given a cerebral angiogram - injecting dye into the blood vessels of the brain and taking x-ray pictures.

We would probably not have rushed into surgery without the findings of the 3D angiography

Jonathan Wasserberg, Queen Elizabeth Hospital

This conventional angiogram failed to show any abnormality, but viewing the images wearing special 3D spectacles revealed a tiny abnormality on one of his blood vessels.

Consultant neurosurgeon Jonathan Wasserberg consequently carried out an operation, putting a metal clip over the abnormality.

Mr Smith was suffering from a cerebral aneurysm, a bulge in the blood vessels in the brain which, if it bursts, can cause a stroke or even death.

Mr Smith, who was able to go home just four days after the operation last week, said he was "very grateful" to staff at the hospital.

"They knew there had been a bleed in the brain, but the CAT scan didn't show it up.

"They told me the risks of the new technique, but said it was the only way to find it.

"As soon as they found it, they rushed me down for an operation. They showed me it on the screen - it looked like a little pimple."


The scanner, made by Siemens, is thought to be one of only two of its kind in Europe.

It works by taking 360 x-ray pictures in an arc which are then looked at wearing glasses which allow the doctor to see the blood vessels of the brain more clearly.

With conventional images, the mass of vessels makes it difficult to identify a problem.

Mr Wasserberg said: "Up until now, you saw the pictures in one dimension only. You had to take pictures at various angles because the whole thing is a complicated network of vessels.

"Now we can see it in 3D, rotate it, look round corners. We can immediately see if the abnormality is real or not.

"We have had the scanner for three weeks and already we have had this success."

He added: "We would probably not have rushed into surgery without the findings of the 3D angiography.

"In the past we would have waited a week and then repeated the angiogram. This imaging technology is a dramatic advance in our ability to detect cerebral aneurysms and plan appropriate treatment for them".

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01 Aug 98 | Health
'Hidden danger' of brain damage
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