Pascal Jabbour, MD, is a Professor of Neurological Surgery and the Head of the Division of Neurovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. He is a dually trained vascular neurosurgeon, performing endovascular and open procedures.
Dr. Jabbour lectures frequently on a range of neurovascular topics, both nationally and internationally. He has authored three comprehensive textbooks and more than 360 papers in peer-reviewed journals and serves on the editorial board of Neurosurgery and as a reviewer for numerous other journals. Dr. Jabbour received a national award for pioneering a new technique in the treatment of retinoblastoma in babies.
Dr. Jabbour is a graduate of the Saint Joseph University School of Medicine in Beirut. He completed his residency in neurosurgery at the University of Colorado and Thomas Jefferson University and his fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr Jabbour was elected President of the World Association of Lebanese Neurosurgeons (WALN). He is an active member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, The American Association of Neurological Surgery, Society of Neurointerventional Surgery, AANS/CNS joint CV section. He is the course director of a yearly conference, The CV update, in Philadelphia.
We are extremely excited to welcome Dr. Jabbour to our Scientific Advisory Board.
- Why did you decide to become a cerebrovascular neurosurgeon?
Neurosurgery was my first rotation at the hospital as a medical student. Right away, I fell in love with it. The appeal to cerebrovascular neurosurgery, specifically, was because of the technological changes that led to the development of many new devices. The challenge of cerebrovascular surgery for aneurysms and stroke is the fact that it is a hybrid sub-specialty. And, as a neurosurgeon, I can do open and endovascular procedures.
- Why are you excited to join the Scientific Advisory Board for The Bee Foundation?
The Bee Foundation is unique because it is focused on the prevention of aneurysm formation and rupture. And I was moved by the inspiration behind it, the loss of a young woman, Jenny Sedney, whose family decided to get involved after she suffered a fatal rupture. As well, The Bee Foundation gives grants to researchers who share this motivation to advance the field. I am excited to help the organization grow and spread the word in the Philadelphia area.
- Tell us more about the neurovascular programs at Thomas Jefferson University, and how they support the Philadelphia community.
Jefferson is one of the busiest vascular centers in the country because my chairman was one of the first dual-trained neurosurgeons. We treat around 450 aneurysms each year. We also started a large telemedicine network – mainly for stroke, but also for aneurysms and other vascular diseases. Jefferson has expanded, and we train fellows to be placed in our affiliate hospitals. We are practically the biggest neurovascular provider in the tri-state area. We utilize both open and endovascular surgery, depending on which is best for the patient and their particular aneurysm. Each year, Jefferson trains three fellows for our advanced fellowship – one of the most competitive in the country. We also offer a research fellowship that I started in 2010, with an output of 35-45 papers per year in the neurovascular division. Aside from endovascular surgery, I collaborate with the Wills Eye Hospital and helped pioneer a chemotherapy for babies with retinoblastoma. Five years ago, I was awarded the Wills Eye award for this work.
- What is the most difficult obstacle facing brain aneurysm research?
The biggest challenge is choosing which aneurysms to treat and which aneurysms to watch. We must always consider the risk of the treatment, and weigh the natural history of the disease to determine our options. Hopefully in the future, we will be better able to judge stability from a few lab tests. At Jefferson, we screen all first-degree family members with an MRA when we see a new patient with an aneurysm. It is critical, however, to order an MRA for any patient that suddenly begins to experience a completely different type of headache.
- What do you want people to know about brain aneurysms?
I want them to know that brain aneurysms exist. A lot of people do not know what an aneurysm is. They need to know that an aneurysm is a vascular anomaly in the brain that carries a risk of ruptures which in many cases is fatal. People should also know to consult with a neurologist if and when they experience symptoms. Furthermore, there is a lot of teaching that needs to be done in emergency rooms. So many times I have patients with low grade ruptured aneurysmwho tell me that they went to the ER multiple times for a headache without receiving a scan. Or they went to the ER and waited five hours before they were able to get a CT. This must change. The good news is that we are starting to see more primary care physicians today are ordering scans with an MRA, which is preferable.
- What do you tell the family members of a patient with a ruptured aneurysm?
First of all,they need to know how serious the situation is. Even if the patient recovers, they must understand that this is a life-changing event. Despite the fact that the patient may come back to the clinic walking and talking, there are a lot of cognitive issues that neurosurgeons cannot immediately identify. These patients need significant family support because they will simply not be the same after suffering from a ruptured aneurysm.