A new treatment option for stroke Health Bit

December 1 started like any other day for 76-year-old Jerry Densmore until he became one of the first people in the country to have a blood clot removed from his brain using a new device.

“I was standing at the front door when I fell on the screen door,” said Densmore, a retired plumber who lives in Bittlefield, Michigan. “I told the woman. “I just need to sit down.” But he never listens to me again. And that’s a good thing. He probably saved my life.”

Densmore’s wife, Cheryl, immediately noticed that the left side of his face was drooping and his speech wasn’t quite right.

Convinced she was having a stroke, she called an ambulance, which rushed her to Big Rapids Hospital and then to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

That’s when Dr. Justin Singer, director of Vascular Neurosurgery, deployed the Zoom RDL device, making Densmore one of the first people to have a blood clot removed.

An agile approach

The device is used during mechanical thrombectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that allows a surgeon to thread a catheter through one of a patient’s major arteries and into the brain to capture and remove a blood clot.

In Densmore’s case, the clot was on the right side of his brain, cutting off the blood flow he needed to keep his brain alive and fully functioning.

The Zoom RDL allowed Dr. Singer access through the radial artery in Densmore’s arm. Most often, the thrombectomy goes through the patient’s femoral artery, which is accessible to the leg.

And while Dr. Singer and others have previously performed thrombectomy via the radial artery, the instruments they used were not designed for that purpose.

The Zoom RDL is longer than traditional catheters and has a unique tip that “provides a more systemic approach to radial access. It gives me more flexibility and it’s less gross” than using a femoral artery catheter,” said Dr. Singer, who was the first neurosurgeon in the country to use the device to treat stroke.

“It’s like framing a house. You need a good, stable foundation to build the rest of your procedure on,” he said. “Having this new technology will help us help more patients.”

But radiation access isn’t for everyone, Singer said. Femoral access is generally faster if the vessels are not tortuous, which is common as we age.

Navigating through all those twists and turns takes time, which is at a premium when dealing with a blood clot blocking the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain.

“We lose hundreds of millions of brain cells every minute when congestion occurs, so any tool we need to move faster is important,” says Dr. Singer.

He added that the pre-procedure scans give him a good idea of ​​the patient’s anatomy and help him decide how best to proceed.

Restored in minutes

Densmore remembers nothing about the procedure, which took about 18 minutes and restored blood flow to “near normal,” Dr. Singer said.

Shortly after she was moved to the patient room, she was able to move and communicate without much difficulty.

Another advantage of radio access relates to post-operative recovery time.

Densmore described the entry point on his arm as “a little scratch, not much different than an IV.”

Conversely, when the access point is the femoral artery, patients must lie flat for about six hours after surgery to allow the artery to close and healing to begin.

Many of his patients receive anti-clotting drugs, “so there is a risk of significant blood loss. The risk is low, but you don’t want it to happen even once,” Singer said.

Before Densmore finishes her short hospital stay and goes home, doctors have placed a heart rate monitor above her breastbone.

It connects to her phone and sends regular updates to make sure her heart is working properly. A chaotic rhythm can cause blood clots.

Two months later, he completed home occupational and physical therapy and is looking forward to fishing Lake Nichols again this spring and summer.

“At first I had problems with my balance, but gradually it disappeared. I’m back on my feet and things are back to normal. I would say I’m 98 or 99 percent,” he said.

Still, he thinks about what happened and how the outcome could have been so different if his wife and doctors hadn’t acted quickly.

“People should pay attention to this. If you have symptoms and they are not difficult to learn, get your tail to the hospital as soon as possible. The sooner, the better,” he said.

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