Morristown, NJ – January, 2022 – Altair Health, the largest neurosurgical practice in New Jersey, has treated the first patient in the state participating in STEM, the Squid trial for the treatment of chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH). The national, randomized study evaluates the effectiveness of embolization, a procedure that uses a non-adhesive liquid embolic agent to block a blood vessel, versus surgery for the treatment of cSDH. Altair Health is one of 25 sites nationwide and the only in New Jersey enrolling patients in the trial.
“A cSDH is a collection of blood between the surface of the brain and its outermost layer, the dura,” Ronald P. Benitez, MD, a neurosurgeon who specializes in the management of cerebrovascular disease, explains. “cSDH, often caused by a fall or atrophy, is a common problem in our aging population. The blood collection creates a membrane similar to a deflated balloon with its own blood supply. The infusion of blood inflates the balloon. Depending on its location, as it gets larger, the cSDH produces headaches, numbness, weakness or seizures – and may be mistaken for a stroke.”
cSDH are typically treated with skull surgery to drain the blood. The blood reaccumulates in 20-30% of patients, requiring a second procedure.
“The STEM trial is looking at minimally invasive embolization as an option for treating cSDH,” Dr. Benitez continues. “During the embolization, a catheter is fed through the wrist or leg to the middle meningeal artery that supplies blood to the cSDH. Squid, an embolic agent, is injected through the catheter to the cSDH, stopping the blood flow and deflating the balloon. The body then reabsorbs the membrane.”
Each patient enrolled in the study has a 50/50 chance of being treated with embolization or surgery.
“We just treated the first patient in New Jersey, a milestone for this study. A female in her 70s, she had fallen three months ago. Just a few days before coming to the hospital, she had a headache, was forgetful and couldn’t speak,” Dr. Benitez details. “A CAT scan revealed a cSDH. Because the trial is randomized, the patient did not know if she would receive surgery or the embolization, but she was eager to participate knowing that evaluating the current standard of care versus this new option is critically important to determining the best treatment. The patient had the traditional surgery and will be followed for one year. If the cSDH reappears, she will then be eligible for the embolization.”
Altair Health is currently enrolling patients with cSDH in the study. For more information, please visit altairhealth.com/squid.