What is stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, reduced or cut off. Within minutes of a stroke, brain cells begin to die and cause the person to experience sudden symptoms, including numbness/tingling, vision changes, trouble speaking and/or confusion. A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is critical. If acted upon early, brain damage can be minimized.
There are three major types of stroke: ischemic, hemorrhagic, and transient ischemic attack (TIA).
Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who can treat strokes by delivering minimally invasive treatments with less risk, less pain and less recovery time than traditional surgery.
Catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy
Board-certified interventional radiologists can use catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy to restore blood flow to the part of the brain that is not receiving blood due to blockage caused by a blood clot. Through a tiny incision in the skin to access the femoral artery and through the use of live, x-ray -guided imagery, the interventional radiologist directs a catheter (a thin plastic tube) through the body's blood vessels to the clot located in the brain. Once at the clot, the physician delivers the thrombolytic agent, in a targeted manner, directly at the clot to dissolve it, restoring the opening of the blood vessel.
Carotid artery angioplasty and stenting
Interventional radiologists may use carotid artery angioplasty to clear a blockage that is preventing sufficient blood flow to the brain. During this treatment, the interventional radiologist guides a catheter with a tiny balloon tip through the blood vessels into the blockage. The balloon is inflated to widen the artery, which restores blood flow. Sometimes the doctor will place a stent (a tiny mesh tube) in the artery to help keep it open.
Endovascular coil treatment
For aneurysms that can lead to hemorrhagic stroke, interventional radiologists can perform a treatment called endovascular coil treatment (ECT). Preparation for ECT involves finding the aneurysm and determining characteristics such as its position, shape, and size. Tests or scans used during this preparation process include CT, MRI, and angiogram. With this information in-hand, interventional radiologists make a tiny incision in the skin to place a catheter in a large blood vessel in the groin. They then guide the catheter to the aneurysm and place a coil at the site of the aneurysm. For bigger aneurysms, multiple coils may be used. These coils induce clotting of the aneurysm, which will decrease the likelihood of the aneurysm bursting and causing a stroke.