PITTSBURGH (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - When someone suffers from a stroke, time is critical. For every few minutes that blood and oxygen are blocked, portions of the brain suffer irreversible damage.
Now, a technique designed to remove clots from large vessels in the brain may be highly effective in reducing stroke's life-altering side effects.
One recent early morning, Patrick Mitchell suffered a stroke at home. No one realized for almost two hours.
His wife, Francine, recalls, "He couldn't communicate with me, and he couldn't move."
Emergency crews rushed Mitchell to Pittsburgh. Neurosurgeons knew his situation was critical.
Too much time had passed for clot-busting drugs to work. Brain scans showed the clot in a major artery but only a tiny section of irreversible damage.
Mitchell was a candidate for a procedure to remove the clot, by using a retrievable stent. Surgeons thread a catheter through the groin.
Tudor G. Jovin, M.D., Director of the UPMC Stroke Institute at Presbyterian University Hospital says, "Instead of us going to the heart, we go to the vessels that supply the brain."
The stent grabs the clot, and when doctors retrieve it the blockage comes out, restoring blood flow. Right after the procedure, Mithchell was able to move and respond.
Dr. Jovin says, "We finally have a treatment that works in this condition."
For Mitchell, the procedure restored his ability to do what he loves with those who matter most.
Dr. Jovin co-led a recent study on the retrievable stent procedure, called Revascat. The trial found patients who had clots removed this way had a 15 percent increase in their ability to function independently as compared with those treated with medicine alone.
Researchers say more work needs to be done to see if the procedure is still effective more than eight hours after the stroke, and also, if this is effective in smaller brain vessels.