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January 31, 2022

Treating the Blood Vessels That Fuel Your Brain | Dr. Walavan Sivakumar

by Anthony Effinger

The Think Neuro podcast from Pacific Neuroscience Institute takes you into the clinic, operating room and laboratory with doctors and surgeons who are tackling the most challenging brain diseases and disorders. Host: Anthony Effinger

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Episode 15: Show Notes

Your brain is an energy hog. It accounts for just one percent of your body weight, but it consumes about 20 percent of your total energy. The blood carries oxygen and 20 percent of blood flow goes to the brain, because all that work requires oxygen. Large arteries are constantly rushing blood to your brain, where it filters into smaller and smaller vessels.

All that pressure can cause problems. If one of those tiny vessels is weak, it can bulge like a balloon. Dr. Walavan Sivakumar, a neurosurgeon, takes a special interest in these balloon-like malformations, called aneurysms, because when they burst, they fill the brain with blood, and can be fatal in about half of all cases —unless they get immediate care from a neurovascular surgeon like him. Studies suggest that at least 3 percent of people are walking around with a vascular malformation like an aneurysm.

Most are not a problem and are found incidentally because of other reasons. We can protect ourselves by controlling our blood pressure and avoiding smoking, which weakens artery walls. Listen to this episode to hear more about how to care for the intricate system that supplies blood to your energy-hungry brain and what to do if something goes wrong.

About Dr. Martin

Walavan Sivakumar MD

Dr. Walavan Sivakumar is Director of Neurovascular Surgery at Pacific Neuroscience Institute and Director of Neurosurgery at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center. He is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon with a focus on skull base and minimally invasive and endoscopic neursosurgery. A multiple Super Doctor Award recipient, Dr. Sivakumar has a particular interest and expertise in brain tumors, skull base tumors, pituitary/parasellar tumors, and intraventricular brain tumors, and he applies the keyhole concept, utilizing advanced neuroimaging and microsurgical techniques to minimize collateral damage to the brain. In addition, he treats patients at the Spine Institute at Little Company of Mary to help relieve and cure back conditions due to spine involvement.

Check Out More Think Neuro Podcast Episodes

About the Author

Anthony Effinger

Anthony Effinger

Think Neuro's host is Anthony Effinger, an award-winning journalist who is fascinated with neuroscience and the workings of the brain. Anthony spent 24 years at Bloomberg News, where he covered all aspects of finance, with forays into science and health. In 2006, the Association of Health Care Journalists awarded him first prize for Playing the Odds, an in-depth piece on the changing strategies used to treat prostate cancer. These days, he is a staff writer at Willamette Week, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Last updated: February 16th, 2022