MAYWOOD, IL – Neurologist Camilo R. Gomez, MD, MBA, a stroke specialist and pioneer in minimally invasive neurosurgery, has joined Loyola Medicine as vice chair of the Department of Neurology and medical director of neuroendovascular surgery.
Dr. Gomez also is a professor in the departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Dr. Gomez introduced the hospital term “Code Stroke” for the immediate summoning of specialists to the patient’s bedside. He also is credited with coining the nationally used expression “time is brain” to communicate the message to call 911 immediately in case of a stroke.
Neuroendovascular surgery is much less invasive than traditional open surgery. It is performed via catheters the physician inserts in the groin and guides through blood vessels up to the brain or spinal cord. (Endovascular means inside blood vessels.) From the tip of the catheter, the physician deploys stents or other devices to repair vascular problems such as strokes, aneurysms and blood vessel malformations.
“Loyola has made an institutional commitment to the growth of this program,” Dr. Gomez said. “I am flattered to have been asked to join the existing operators in a partnership to enhance the delivery of care for patients with vascular disorders that affect the nervous system.”
Dr. Gomez has performed neuroendovascular surgery for 22 years and is among the first neurologists to practice this subspecialty in the United States. Loyola’s neuroendovascular surgery program is multidisciplinary, supported by collaborating neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists and otolaryngologists, said José Biller, MD, chair of Loyola’s Department of Neurology.
“We are establishing a new standard for team care and providing a powerful synergy as we work to provide our patients with the best possible care and outcomes,” Dr. Biller said.
Here are examples of how life-threatening conditions can be treated with minimally invasive neuroendovascular techniques:
Stroke. The most common type of stroke is caused by a blood clot that lodges in a blood vessel, cutting off blood supply to part of the brain. Using a new device called a stent retriever, the neuroendovascular surgeon can effectively stop a stroke in its tracks. The surgeon removes the blood clot, thereby restoring blood flow and improving the odds for a good outcome. If necessary, the surgeon then places a stent to ensure the blood vessel remains open. The procedure is similar to the one used to treat heart attacks. If conducted within the first few hours, it can minimize damage from what would otherwise be a catastrophic stroke.
Aneurysm. An aneurysm is a blister in an artery caused by weakening in the artery wall. Such a blister can grow with time. Like a balloon filling with water, it can leak or burst, causing a potentially catastrophic hemorrhagic stroke. To secure the aneurysm, and prevent further bleeding, the neuroendovascular surgeon releases tiny wire coils into the aneurysm sac, preventing any blood flow within it and thus causing the aneurysm to seal off.
Head and neck tumors. In patients with tumors of the brain, skull base or neck, bleeding can be a major operating risk because the tumors include numerous small blood vessels. To minimize this risk, before the tumor is removed, the neuroendovascular surgeon injects materials into the blood vessels that feed the tumor. This cuts off the blood supply to the tumor, allowing for its removal with minimal blood loss.
Dr. Gomez was born in Cuba, grew up in Venezuela and earned his medical degree from Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic. He completed a residency in neurology from St. Louis University. Dr. Gomez earned a master of business administration degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Before coming to Loyola, Dr. Gomez was the director of the Souers Stroke Institute at St. Louis University and, more recently, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.