Posted: Dec 24, 2012 9:15 AM by Marissa Torres
Updated: Dec 24, 2012 9:16 AM
Time is critical when it comes to treating a stroke. There's a window of 4 and a half hours after the stroke begins for 'clot busting' drugs to be effective; but even in that window, those drugs don't always work. Now, a new device could help save the lives of stroke patients.
This is a much merrier Christmas season for Dan and Sue Nugent than it might have been. That's because Dan, despite being trim and an avid walker, suffered a stroke back in March.
"Around 3:30 in the morning he seemed to be tossing and turning a lot and he wasn't answering me when I was nudging him," says Sue.
Because doctors at Ellis Medicine didn't know when the stroke started, they treated him with a clot busting drug and had him airlifted to where doctors are using the solitaire device.
As Dr. Alan Boulus explains, a nuerosurgeon, says the solitaire device can be used when clot busting drugs don't do the job, or when the patient may be beyond the four and half hours those drugs are most effective.
It's used when a large brain artery is affected. Dan fit the criteria.
Doctors thread a very fine wire, generally up through the groin. It goes across the clot. A specially designed stent is then threaded along that wire.
"When you first expand the stent it pushes the clot to the sides. But then the clot will slowly fold into the stent because it's all open cells. There's no closed part. There's no wall to that."
Doctors wait 5 minutes as the clot folds into and is caught by the stent.
As the blood begins flowing again the clot begins to dissolve. What's left is slowly pulled out of the artery with the help of a balloon that's expanded in the artery.
Because of the way this device works, and because clots often occur at a juncture in the artery, all of the clot is removed in one pass.
In the past doctors might have to go into the artery, repeatedly to clear it. the single action adds to the success rate for solitaire, compared with other, older devices.
"I think it's higher because the procedure's quicker. So it's more efficient and then also because it removes the clots from the other vessel on a regular basis. We've had that experience. I think the patients do recover faster," says Dr. Boulus.
As for Dan and Sue, the hospital stay is behind them, but their delight in his recovery, is still fresh.