Why is this procedure done?
Ischemic stroke occurs when blockage of an artery inside of the brain causes decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. A stroke is a medical emergency in which brain cells may die and can cause permanent disability or death. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the more brain cells die and the more difficult recovery becomes. It is very important to treat stroke as fast as possible to save as much brain as possible.
How is stroke thrombectomy done?
Endovascular stroke thrombectomy is a minimally invasive (nonsurgical) emergency procedure to remove a blood clot from the brain artery. It is done in the hospital in the interventional radiology area.
During the treatment, a small, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the groin or wrist. Fluoroscopy (a type of x-ray) is used to guide the catheter through the arteries in the neck and brain to the site of blockage. Using other catheters and devices, the blockage is removed from the blood vessel, which opens the blood vessel and returns normal blood flow to the brain.
What are my risks? What are common complications?
All medical procedures have risks. Since stroke is a medical emergency, the risks of the procedure can be less than doing nothing. The risks of stroke thrombectomy can include bleeding at the site where the artery is entered, injury to the blood vessels in the neck, formation of blood clots inside of the blood vessels and adverse reaction to anesthesia.
What do I need to know before the procedure?
Stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is having stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The signs of a stroke depend on the side of the brain that is affected, the part of the brain affected and how severely the brain is injured. Therefore, each person may have different stroke warning signs.
The most common symptom of ischemic stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body.
Recognizing a stroke quickly and calling 9-1-1 leads to faster diagnosis and treatment and better recovery. The National Stroke Association encourages people to act “FAST” when it comes to stroke.
Here’s how to act FAST:
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Ask the person to raise both arms out straight in front of them. Does one arm drift downward?
Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or strange?
If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
General discharge instructions
Many people who have had an ischemic stroke will need to stay in the hospital for several days to recover from the stroke. Many patients will also need neuro-rehabilitation to help them regain function lost as a result of their stroke.
What should I expect while recovering?
Neuro-rehabilitation helps stroke survivors regain brain functions and become as independent as possible. Rehabilitation does not reverse brain damage. However, it can help people achieve the best possible long-term outcome.
Rehabilitation treatments will vary for each person depending on the location in the brain and the severity of their stroke. Treatment can be provided in an acute care hospital, a rehabilitation hospital or an outpatient setting.
Rehabilitation can last from one month to more than two years and involve numerous physicians, nurses and therapists.