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Health Information Advances in Stroke Treatment

Ischemic stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. Each year over 700,000 people suffer from a stroke in the United States.

Some signs of an ischemic stroke (a stroke caused by an interruption in the flow of blood) include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or extremities
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance

If you are someone you know experience some or all of these symptoms contact your doctor immediately. If you are unable to get through to your doctor or suspect that someone is having a stroke, go to the emergency room immediately.

Rush University Medical Center is one of the first sites in the Midwest with the opportunity to test a new minimally invasive investigational technique to remove blood clots in large brain vessels that cause acute ischemic stroke. The Penumbra Stroke System uses suction and catheterization techniques to rapidly restore blood flow in the brain and limit damage caused by stroke.

Current therapy in acute ischemic stroke is often not effective or can be difficult to administer within the short three-hour treatment window. Clot dissolving drugs have a high risk of bleeding complications, open surgery is complex and time consuming, and the first generation of mechanical clot removing devices have demonstrated some limitations.

"The Penumbra Stroke System has the potential to minimize injury to the blood vessel wall," says Demetrius Lopes, MD, a neuroendovascular specialist at Rush. "Instead of piercing the clot to retrieve it, you attack it with suction. We believe we may be able to remove rigid clots that we could not grab with the other mechanical device."

Penumbra is delivered into the brain using a catheter inserted through a small puncture in the groin. Using x-ray guidance, the device is maneuvered through the blood vessels of the body to the site of the clot in the brain. A separator is advanced and retracted through the catheter to dislodge the clot, and a suction device grabs hold of it for removal.

When blood flow resumes, if residual clotting material remains, a balloon catheter is used to temporarily stop the flow of blood in the area, and a ring is used to clasp the material and remove it. The device can be used up to eight hours after the onset of stroke.

"It is an exciting time to see the development of new tools to treat acute stroke," says Lopes. "Clots come in different shapes and sizes and are made of different materials. It's important to have a variety of tools available to handle all the different situations we face."

 


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For information on neurosurgery at Rush visit the Neurosurgery home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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