When a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is blocked by a clot, it is called a stroke. The brain is then deprived of blood flow and cells begin to die, causing brain damage. The abilities controlled by the affected part of the brain may be lost, often in speech, memory, or movement. Depending on the severity of the stroke, some patients recover fully, while others may suffer long-term disability.
Some of the most common symptoms of a stroke include
- sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm and/or leg, especially on one side of the body
- sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- sudden trouble seeing, including double vision, blurred vision or partial blindness, in one or both eyes
- trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- sudden severe headache with no known cause
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Minimally invasive treatments
Treating the stroke victim within a few hours is critical. Interventional radiologists at Good Shepherd Hospital can reopen narrowed sections of the artery and reinforce the area with a stent to help prevent another stroke. If the stroke was due to a blood clot, the radiologist will use a clot-busting drug to break up the clot.
A ruptured blood vessel, or hemorrhagic stroke, may also be repaired with the help of interventional radiology. This procedure uses tiny metal coils to embolize and block abnormal blood vessels or aneurysms.
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If more than a few hours have elapsed or initial treatment does not resolve the clot, the physician may perform intra-arterial thrombolysis. In this procedure, clot busters are injected directly into an artery up to 6 hours after a patient begins experiencing a stroke. Through x-ray guidance, the radiologist inserts a catheter through the skin and advances it through the large artery in the leg up to the small arteries in the brain. A clot-busting drug is then placed directly on the clot or the physician breaks up the clot mechanically.
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