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2006: Another Breakthrough in Stroke Treatment
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Another Breakthrough in Stroke Treatment

66-Year-old Stroke Patient Experiences Dramatic Comeback

WINFIELD, Ill., May 22, 2006 - Thanks to a new medical technology and the skilled hands of a local physician, a 66-year-old Wheaton man is well on the way to recovery from a devastating ischemic stroke.

On Saturday, May 6, he experienced classic stroke symptoms while in his garden—tremors, dizziness and difficulty talking—and was quickly transported to the Emergency Room at Central DuPage Hospital (CDH), a regional stroke center in Chicago’s western suburbs. By the time he arrived, paralysis had set in on his right side due to the clot lodged in his basilar artery, located in a critical part of the brain. Two interventions with a clot-busting drug, t-PA, were given within three hours, but failed to work. Full paralysis had set in and the stroke victim needed assistance to breathe.

Fortunately, CDH has access to leading edge stroke tools and a new device, the Merci® Retriever, enabled CDH’s interventional neuroradiologist to pull the clot completely out of the patient’s brain to restore blood flow. The results were nothing short of miraculous: almost immediately after awakening in the Intensive Care Unit, the patient was able to breathe on his own, speak, and was no longer paralyzed.

The patient adds: “I really thought that was it, but two key things saved my life: immediate response from the Wheaton Fire Department team who took me to Central DuPage Hospital; and the fact that Central DuPage Hospital has access to and experience with this procedure. I am very fortunate to live where I do.

He was discharged from the hospital last week and expects to resume his active lifestyle, including tennis and jogging, within the month. Without CDH’s experience on the proper use of this unique device and procedure, he would have had no other treatment options.

“This is a real breakthrough in stroke care and it is truly one of the most dramatic medical comebacks I have ever witnessed,” says Harish Shownkeen, MD, Director of Endovascular Surgical NeuroRadiology at CDH, who performed the procedure. “This scenario is particularly exciting because it represents a real advancement in stroke care.”

Only a handful of stroke centers across the United States are fully trained in the use of the Merci Retriever, which was approved by the FDA late in 2004. Dr. Shownkeen is a full-time, dedicated interventional neuroradiologist trained in emergency and preventive stroke care.

Dr. Shownkeen added: “Fortunately for the patient, Central DuPage Hospital is part of an elite group of hospitals in the country trained on this device. We were able to offer him a promising new treatment option that allowed us to intervene during an acute stroke and reverse damage to the brain’s tissue.

The Merci Retriever enables neuro-interventionalists to extract a blood clot similar to how a bottle of wine is uncorked. Once a catheter is passed through a groin artery up to the brain artery that is clogged, the Merci Retriever follows, and its loops are opened to grab onto the clot. A balloon is inflated to stop blood flow momentarily, and the clot is brought down to a larger catheter in the neck. When the clot is entirely retracted, the balloon is deflated and blood flow to the brain resumes.

“Today, stroke care is where cardiology was 15 or 20 years ago,” explains Dr. Shownkeen. “We are turning the corner and there is new hope for stroke victims due to a variety of new devices and procedures available at hospitals committed to stroke treatment, including Central DuPage Hospital. As an elite stroke center we are stewards of the community’s neurological health and we intend to educate and train neighboring emergency departments and citizens to react quickly to stroke symptoms to ensure we have sufficient treatment time.”

In most cases, the window of opportunity for treating a stroke with clot-busting drugs is only 3 hours from symptom onset. Advanced tools such as the Merci Retriever can extend that treatment window up to 8 hours. Physicians at Central DuPage Hospital urge people to understand their risk factors for stroke and react quickly to the first signs of a stroke by calling 911. CDH is offering classes May 30, 31 and June 1 in DuPage County. Please call 630-933-4CDH to reserve a seat.

Nine out of ten strokes are ischemic, resulting from blood clots that cut off the oxygen supply to brain tissue. Immediate medical attention is required to prevent or minimize tissue damage. The most common intervention is a clot-dissolving agent, tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), approved by the FDA for stroke therapy in 1996. The medication must be administered within three hours of the onset of ischemic stroke symptoms. Nationally, less than four percent of stroke patients recognize the symptoms and seek care within the timeframe that would allow them to receive tPA treatment. Of those who do receive the drug, only one of seven will benefit. The Merci Retriever extends the treatment window up to eight hours after onset of stroke symptoms.

FDA-approved in 2004, only the country’s most advanced stroke centers have the expertise to use the Merci Retriever for emergency stroke treatment. In Illinois, CDH is one of the few hospitals to offer the device as part of its stroke treatment program, which includes other unique tools not available at most area hospitals:

  • NeuroFlo Device: Stage 3 Clinical Trial for emergency stroke care up to 10 hours from onset of symptoms
  • Wingspan Stent: Device used to open intracranial arteries and prevent recurrence of stroke
  • Coil method for repairing brain aneurysms
  • Onyx: a liquid embolic material that prevents rupture of arterio-venous malformations (AVMs) which can lead to stroke

About the CDH Stroke Program
In the 1990s, CDH was the first hospital in the region to develop a comprehensive program to treat stroke victims with tPA. In June, 2005, CDH established a highly specialized program for minimally invasive surgical neuroradiology, including a dedicated patient care unit for neurological patients served by neurological-certified nurses and a bi-plane angiography suite with 3D angiogram capabilities. In October, 2005, CDH became the first hospital in the U.S. to enroll a patient in a national clinical trial of a new device, NeuroFlo, that appears to extend the treatment window for acute stroke victims and potentially restores blood flow to the brain. In January, 2006, CDH became the first community hospital in the U.S. to use a new FDA-approved device, the Winsgpan stent, to open blocked blood vessels in the brain and prevent a stroke.

About CDH
Central DuPage Hospital is a nationally recognized 361-bed facility located in Winfield, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. As part of its comprehensive neurosciences program, in 2005, and again in 2006, Central DuPage Hospital was recognized for excellence in stroke specialty and ranked among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation for treatment of stroke by HealthGrades, an independent provider of information products, ratings and advisory services to the health care industry. In 2006, the hospital was also named among the nation’s top five percent for patient safety by HealthGrades. In 2005, Central DuPage Hospital was named one of the top 100 cardiovascular hospitals in the country by Solucient, a nationally respected resource for evaluating health care performance. Central DuPage Hospital is part of Central DuPage Health, a network including convenient care centers, primary care physician groups, business and occupational health services, and a full range of options for senior living, home health and hospice care. For additional information, please visit www.cdh.org.