Treatments for Stroke

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In the past, there was little that could be done to treat a stroke once it had occurred. Today, however, there are several options available to treat stroke and help reduce or eliminate disability. Patients are evaluated and treated based on individual need and established guidelines.

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies the brain becomes blocked or "clogged" and impairs blood flow to part of the brain. Watch the video to learn more about ischemic strokes and how they are treated at Lutheran Hospital.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel that supplies the brain ruptures and bleeds. When an artery bleeds into the brain, brain cells and tissues do not get oxygen and nutrients. Watch the video to learn more about brain aneurysms and how they are treated at Lutheran Hospital.

Aneurysm Coiling
Aneurysm coiling is a procedure performed to treat an aneurysm by blocking it with soft platinum coils that are placed in the aneurysm through a catheter.

Aneurysm Coiling

Angioplasty with Stenting
A tube inserted into an artery in the groin is guided to the narrowed cerebral artery. A small balloon is inserted into the tube and is opened when it reaches the narrowed part of the artery. A small, flexible mesh tube called a stent is then inserted through the tube into the narrowed artery. The stent remains in place to keep the artery open.

Carotid Endarterectomy
A carotid endarterectomy is a procedure performed with a catheter to prevent stroke. During a CEA, plaque buildup on the inside of an artery is removed to open the artery to allow proper blood flow.

Intravenous Thrombolysis
Thrombolysis is the use of a thrombolytic drug called Activase to dissolve blood clots in patients having an ischemic stroke. In intravenous thrombolysis, Activase is administered through a vein in the arm and travels through the blood stream until it reaches the blockage. The FDA-approved drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is also used during this procedure. Unfortunately, because this procedure can only be utilized within a few hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, a lot of patients do not qualify for this highly effective treatment.

Intra-arterial Thrombolysis
Activase can also be used for intra-arterial thrombolytics, in which the medication is delivered directly to the clot. A catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin and threaded to the blocked artery in the brain. The clot-busting drug is then injected directly into the clot.

Mechanical Embolectomy
Mechanical embolectomy is a procedure used to open the intracranial vessels during an ischemic stroke by removing a blood clot from the artery with a small instrument. Mechanical embolectomies are frequently performed on patients who are not eligible for intravenous or intra-arterial thrombolysis.

MERCI Retriever for Clot Removal
The MERCI Retriever is a device used to physically pull out all or part of a clot in patients having an ischemic stroke. This minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter-based tiny corkscrew-like device that is threaded through an artery in the leg to the brain to trap and remove the clot. After the clot is ensnared, the clot and device are withdrawn from the body, reopening the artery and re-establishing blood flow to the brain.

Penumbra Device for Clot Removal
Also used for ischemic stroke patients, the Penumbra is a minimally invasive catheter-based system designed to suction and remove clots in patients experiencing acute ischemic stroke. The endovascular procedure involves the use of a mechanical device on the end of a catheter to physically suction all or part of a clot.

Patients who are hospitalized for stroke are evaluated on multiple levels. Testing may include:

  • Brain imaging
  • Carotid ultrasound
  • Echocardiogram
  • Lab work
  • Physical, occupational or speech therapy
  • Swallow study