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Stroke Care: What is a thrombectomy?

Posted June 10, 2019 by Alexander P Venizelos, MD Neurology


According to the CDC, someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds. Those patients who receive emergency care greatly increase their rate of survival and shorten recovery time. A stroke occurs when blood supply is reduced or cut off from the brain, and that root cause is sometimes due to a blood clot.

When a patient comes in and is diagnosed with a stroke, medications can be administered intravenously to break up and restore blood flow back to the brain. However, this medication is only successful around 25 percent of the time when used on large blockages. In these cases, recent advances in technology have opened the door to another treatment option.

If the blockage is not removed quickly, the lack of oxygen to the brain can cause permanent damage to healthy brain cells and lead weakness, paralysis or other permanent disability.

A thrombectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove a blood clot in the brain. This procedure uses a small intravenous device - like a catheter - to remove the obstruction. The device is guided by visual imaging - like a camera or to locate the blockage and monitor the surrounding tissue for blood flow. The catheter travels through an artery through a very small incision in the groin area. The goal is to get the retrieval device past the blood clot. Once there, a small balloon attached to the catheter’s tip will inflate. The catheter is then slowly pulled back and removed, bringing the balloon and the blockage out with it. This immediately restores blood flow back to the brain.

Early research suggests this procedure can vastly increase survival rates for those who are having serious strokes; possibly avoiding some of the permanent complications, like speech difficulty and paralysis.

Depending on the patient’s previous medical history, this procedure can be minimally invasive and most recover quickly and easily. Some patients recover in less than 24 hours.

Summa Health Neuroscience Institute is a nationally recognized healthcare organization dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered stroke care. Summa Health is the only Akron Area Primary Stroke Center to have achieved the American Heart Association Gold Plus award for the last 9+ years in a row.

For more information, call Summa Health Stroke Care Center at 330.319.9495.

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