New Stroke Treatment Means Hope For Many Patients

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A stroke is called a brain attack. Survivors may find themselves partially paralyzed or unable to speak. But a new study finds that a treatment tested at OhioHealth Riverside Hospital can do a remarkable job helping some patients recover.

Every 45 seconds, someone in this country has a stroke. It's caused by a clot, that stops blood flow in the brain.  Doctors say "time is brain."  "The longer you wait to get treatment, the more brain tissue might have died." said Dr. Ron Budzik, co-director of the stroke program a Riverside.

Until now, the only approved treatment has been the clot-busting drug called TPA.  But it has to be given no more than four and a half hours after the brain attack. 

Doctors at Riverside Hospital were among the first in the country to test a new technique, one that uses a tiny scaffold-like stent.  When a stroke patient arrives in the emergency department at Riverside, doctors scan the blood vessels of the brain to locate the clot.  Through a small slit, they snake a tube up to the clot.  The tube carries the stent.  A tiny tool snags the clot and slides it into the stent.  Then the doctors pull it free.

"You pull a clot out of somebody's brain. And they've been devastated with stroke symptoms for hours, and within five minutes the patient gets better and they start talking to you," Dr. Budzik said.

He said that doesn't happen every time, but results of this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine are so promising, he thinks this might become part of the standard of care.  "It's really a big deal because it really could change the face of how we treat stroke worldwide."

Two other studies on this treatment were ended early, because results were so positive.