New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

Hunt Batjer, M.D. Answers Questions On Cerebrovascular Surgery and Head Injury

Hunt Batjer, M.D. Answers Questions On: Cerebrovascular Surgery and Head Injury

For patients who need surgery for cerebrovascular problems, what is the UT Southwestern advantage?

You would come here for infrastructure. We’ve got cutting-edge technology. We’ve got a hospital that is specifically geared for these problems, from anesthesia to critical care to our consultant medical services. Everybody on our team has rich, deep experience with cerebrovascular problems. There are no surprises. Layers of safety have already been established, and patients will get novel, innovative treatment for bad problems, with a great chance of a perfect outcome. You can’t get that elsewhere.

What innovations are you helping to introduce in cerebrovascular surgery at UT Southwestern?

Our anesthesiologists are working in very innovative ways to protect the brain during times that we block off the blood supply. In the event of a sudden unexpected intraoperative rupture, they will stop the heart immediately with drugs for 15 seconds or so to give us a chance to control the bleeding. That has proven to be an unbelievably safe maneuver. We are also working on new ways to determine which vascular lesions in the brain are unstable and which are stable, using MRI to visualize whether thin-walled vessels leak contrast.

We’ve gotten much better at aneurysm and AVM surgery over the last decade, using a wide variety of technical approaches, technologies, and creative ways of thinking through the problems. It’s been a rapid evolution, and UT Southwestern, because of its rich cerebrovascular history, has always been at the forefront of that thought process.

What are you doing to reduce the risk of head injury in young athletes?

Head injury is an unbelievable public-health problem, not just a sports problem. And it is not a gender-specific problem; it affects boys and girls, men and women. Women are actually more vulnerable to head injuries than men.

In football, we aim to incrementally take the head out of the game. The helmet is not a weapon – it is a protective device. That culture starts when you’re 10 years old, so we’re really focusing on the kids so that they learn the best practices and get good coaching as we get good legislation in place.

With youth sports, we can really make culture changes. We want kids to learn to play through pain, but not to play through brain or spinal injuries – those can wreck or end your life. We say it over and over and over.