INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - An ischemic stroke, or blockage of an artery pumping blood to the brain, requires a rapid response to prevent irreversible damage. Franciscan Health Indianapolis has a new tool that can lessen the severity of brain disability and even prevent death.
It's called mechanical thrombectomy and its now offered by the Franciscan Health stroke team. The minimally invasive procedure removes an obstructing blood clot from arteries within the brain.
Here's how it works: Using guided X-ray imagery, the procedure involves steering a series of catheters – long skinny plastic tubes – through the artery in the groin and into the neck and head. Once positioned at the blockage, the clot is removed using a combination of aspiration – literally vacuuming the clot out – or small rake-like devices called stent retrievers which result in removal of the obstruction clot and restoration of blood flow to the brain.
"Mechanical thrombectomy can make a major impact in reversing the debilitating effects of an ischemic stroke," said Daniel Sahlein, MD, neurointerventionalist. "We need to treat patients as quickly as possible after symptom onset in order to have this impact.
"Unfortunately, many patients come to the ER after it is too late," said Dr.Sahlein. "We like to say 'time is brain' when thinking about the urgency involved in getting to the right medical center."
Patients may be eligible for the procedure up to 24 hours after symptoms onset – but all patients have better outcomes when treated earlier so care should not be delayed and patients should go to hospitals that offer this service.
Franciscan Health Indianapolis is the only provider of mechanical thrombectomy services to patients living in or near the southside of Marion County and southward to Louisville.
Franciscan Health Indianapolis has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, which recognizes the hospital's commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients.
After a stroke, patients often face a disability or impairment that requires special care. The rehabilitation team at Franciscan Health provides acute rehabilitation during inpatient stays and on an outpatient basis.
Franciscan Health also offers a support group for those recovering from a stroke or those caring for a stroke survivor. At these free events, you can gain insights from knowledgeable speakers and talk with others who are coping with the effects of stroke.
Dr. Sahlein is a member of Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, whose practice recently entered into a collaboration with Franciscan Health, enabling both organizations to provide more complex spine and cranial procedures and stroke care, including the treatment of brain cancer.