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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

This Procedure Can Save Your Life After a Stroke

Posted By: Advancing Care

When you suffer a stroke, time is of the essence. According to research from the American Heart Association, the average patient loses 1.9 million neurons, 13.8 billion synapses and seven miles of axonal fibers every minute that a stroke goes untreated. That’s because a stroke disrupts blood flow to the brain and deprives it of life-sustaining oxygen, causing it to start to die almost immediately. And when brain tissue dies, it cannot be recovered.

The good news? Your chances of surviving a stroke and avoiding irreversible damage improve if you seek treatment quickly, especially within the first hour of experiencing symptoms, which is known as the “golden hour.”

Ji Chong, MD

“Clot-busting medications, such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), are widely used and highly effective, but in some cases, more aggressive treatment is necessary,” explains Ji Chong, MD, a vascular neurologist at Westchester Medical Center. “Thrombectomy for stroke, or endovascular thrombectomy, is an excellent example of an intervention that can save the brain and advance health outcomes and overall functionality.”

Here’s what you need to know about the procedure, who stands to benefit from it and where you or a loved one can access treatment.

What is Thrombectomy?

Thrombectomy is a minimally invasive medical procedure typically performed on individuals who have experienced an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked by a clot. A catheter is inserted through a small incision in the groin or wrist, where it moves up to the brain and, with the aid of a suction device or a stent, removes the clot.

Previous evidence only supported the use of thrombectomy in a small subgroup of patients, but a new study—in which WMCHealth participated—dramatically expands the number of eligible patients.

“Findings from the SELECT-2 trial suggest that ischemic stroke patients treated with thrombectomy within the first 24 hours have shown improved functional outcomes compared to those who receive tPA or other standard medical management,” says Dr. Chong.

Who Benefits from the Procedure?

Eligibility for this procedure depends on factors such as the size and location of the clot, the time since the stroke occurred and the patient’s overall health and medical history. Generally, patients who are eligible for endovascular thrombectomy are those who have a large vessel occlusion (LVO) in the brain and can undergo the procedure within 6-24 hours of symptom onset.

Prior to the study, patients with significant ischemic changes, known as large core, had not been considered desirable candidates for thrombectomy because the risks of hemorrhage or other complications were thought to be greater compared to patients with smaller strokes. Results of the study, however, show that patients with large strokes benefit greatly from the procedure, which will open up thrombectomy to approximately 20-30 percent more patients.

Where Can Patients Receive this Care?

When it comes to stroke care, residents of the Hudson Valley have options.

After a rigorous review of its stroke services, WMCHealth’s MidHudson Regional Hospital is now certified in thrombectomy, giving community members a local alternative for efficient and effective stroke care, with the ability to leverage the Comprehensive Stroke Center specialists at WMCHealth’s Westchester Medical Center, where thrombectomy service is also available. WMCHealth has plans to launch thrombectomy at other Network hospitals in the coming years.

“This certification is a powerful endorsement of our commitment to quality care, and increases the possibility of recovery while lowering the risk of severe disability for stroke patients,” says Dr. Chong.

To learn more about WMCHealth’s advanced stroke care technologies, explore our services and neurosurgical solutions.