Thursday, January 25, 2007
Medical Reports: Stopping Strokes
Until now, treating strokes has been a daunting and risky task for doctors. But now, there's a new device that may be an important breakthrough in solving the problem. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us a new way of stopping strokes.
WSVN -- A stroke, it can happen in a second, but its effects can be life-altering.
Olivia Smith's life changed drastically when she suffered a stroke five months ago.
Olivia Smith: "When I first woke up, I couldn't do anything but lie in bed."
Now, her husband has to care for her.
Even the simplest of tasks are a challenge.
Olivia Smith: "I pray for every step. At one point, I couldn't eat, so I had to pray for each mouth of food I would take."
But Olivia is lucky to be alive.
She was one of the first people in the world to try a new stroke therapy, using this device called a penumbra.
In the past, if you weren't able to get a clot-busting drug within three hours after having a stroke, doctors typically had to push a corkscrew device through the brain clot and pull it out -- something that's very risky.
Dr. Demetrius Lopes: "You are putting yourself at a bit of a risk of potentially rupturing the blood vessel."
But the penumbra works without going into the clot.
Doctors snake it up the brain through an incision in the leg.
If the clot is soft, the device breaks it up and sucks it in from the front.
If the clot is hard, a wire basket fits around the clot and pulls it in.
It can be used up to eight hours after a stroke.
Dr. Lopes: "This device comes to us as a tremendous gift, to finally be able to address a problem that has been haunting us for years and years."
At least 20 patients have received this procedure and are all doing well.
Olivia is one of those, but she knows her recovery will be a long one.
Olivia Smith: "It's like starting back all over again."
Richard Lemus: "Researchers from 30 sites in the US. will enroll 125 patients to further test the device."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Rush University School of Medicine
Penumbra Trial Information Line