Hi-tech device to help stroke patients

September 27, 2012 1:28:19 PM PDT
Stroke is the third largest killer in America. Strokes kill 140,000 people each year. They're often caused by a blood clot that blocks a brain artery. Doctors now can use a hi-tech device to reach in and remove the clot. Drugs called clot-busters can dissolve the clot. But when they don't work, a wire mesh catheter may save a victim's life.

Georgia Moini, 74, had a stroke two weeks ago after a family get-together that would have killed her if not for the quick action of her husband and son. She remembers cleaning up after her husband stepped out of the house to say goodbye to his folks, then she collapsed on the floor. Georgia's husband John Moini went over and said "do you want me to help you up?" When she didn't answer, he knew there was a problem.

Georgia's stroke responded to the wire device mentioned earlier, which literally pulled out the blood clot that was blocking blood flow to almost the entire left side of her brain.

"This woman would in particular would have died if we had not been able to perform this procedure," Dr. Paul Saphier from Englewood Hospital said.

Georgia's ER CAT scan showed the left side of her brain orange and red which shows abnormal blood flow and the risk of a major stroke on essentially this whole half of her brain.

When clot busting drugs didn't work, Dr. Saphier threaded a wire from the groin to the brain and extended this mesh around the clot. The mesh first opened up the artery. As the artery was pulled back, it pulled out the clot then blood began to flow again.

Georgia had only a small stroke. Her MRI shows that the majority of the brain is now normal. Two days after the procedure, Georgia said, "I was me all over again?but?it saved my life because it went up there and out there and I was clear."

The time between a stroke and getting care is critical. Dr. Saphier says "every minute brain cells die, and treatment should happen within 6-8 hours." The device was FDA-approved at the beginning of 2012.

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