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Advances in Stroke Treatment

24-Hour Brain Attack Team Delivers Potentially Life-Saving Treatment


April 2007 — Recognizing stroke symptoms and quickly seeking medical attention are essential to getting the best outcome. This can be difficult since many people don't recognize stroke symptoms or realize there's treatment that, if administered rapidly, can greatly diminish the disability caused by ischemic stroke. This is the type of stroke that occurs when a clot interrupts blood flow to the brain. Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West were among the first South Florida hospitals designated as Primary Stroke Centers by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. When presented with stroke patients, round-the-clock Brain Attack Teams at both hospitals work quickly to determine the nature and severity of the stroke and treat the patient accordingly.

Potentially Life-Saving Treatment

Memorial's Brain Attack Team includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, emergency department physicians, critical care intensivists, hospitalists and interventional neuroradiologists who are also certified and trained to use the Merci Retriever, a corkscrew-like device approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Inserted into the brain through a microcatheter, this tiny instrument withdraws a clot lodged in a cerebral blood vessel, thus restoring blood flow to the brain.

Time is essential, since tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), a powerful clot-buster introduced in 1996, reduces potential for permanent disability, but must be administered quickly. It can be delivered intravenously for up to three hours after symptom onset, or intra-arterially by a qualified interventional neuroradiologist for three to six hours after the first symptom appears.

Improving Outcomes

Rochelle Ayala, MD

Hoang Duong, MD
Chief of
interventional Neuroradiology
Memorial Healthcare System

Our goal is to improve outcomes for ischemic stroke patients by using evidence-based procedures in a timely manner. Patients such as Dolores benefit from these advanced procedures. She was having lunch with her husband of 56 years, Ken, when he noticed she was acting peculiar. She wasn't speaking and seemed to be in a daze. He became alarmed and called 911.

Dolores was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital. The Brain Attack Team was alerted and a CT scan administered. It was determined that she suffered an ischemic stroke caused by a clot in her brain artery.

Hoang Duong, MD, Memorial Healthcare System's Chief of Interventional Neuroradiology, was immediately contacted for his expertise. In a delicate procedure, Dr. Duong removed the clot using the Merci Retriever.

Five days later, Dolores went home. Now, five months later, she marvels that she has no serious lingering effects from her stroke. "Thanks to the extraordinary stroke treatment at Memorial Regional Hospital, I am alive and healthy today," said Dolores.

If you would like a referral to a physician, call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.