CIRA’s fellowship-trained neurointerventional surgeons play a critical role on a hospital’s stroke team. Immediately following a suspected stroke, a CT scan or MRI is performed to determine if a stroke occurred and what kind it is: either ischemic or hemorrhagic. If the stroke is due to a blood clot, a clot-busting drug, t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator) can be given intravenously to break up or reduce the size of blood clots to the brain. This technique must be performed within three hours from the onset of symptoms.

When therapy cannot be initiated within three hours or when treatment with t-PA during the first three hours is not sufficient to dissolve the blood clot, a CIRA neurointerventional surgeon can provide intra-arterial thrombolysis. To do this, the neurointerventional surgeon steers a catheter through the arterial system to the large arteries of the brain. A smaller instrument known as a microcatheter is then advanced through the guide catheter, and t-PA can be given through the microcatheter to break up the clot.

CIRA neurointerventional surgeons also are experts at a technique called thrombectomy – now considered the mainstay of treatment for patients experiencing ischemic stroke. Using the latest revascularization technology such as the Solitiare, Penumbra and Trevo devices, CIRA neurointerventional surgeons are able to restore blood flow, administer medical therapy and retrieve the blood clot that caused the stroke in the first place. CIRA experts perform thrombectomy procedures at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, which recently received a “Comprehensive Stroke Center” designation. OSF St. Francis is the second hospital in the country – and the first in the Midwest – to achieve this prestigious designation.

To prevent future stroke, CIRA neurointerventional surgeons can correct the underlying problem – such as a clogged carotid or other artery – using angioplasty and stent procedures to reopen the narrowed section of artery and restore the flow of blood to the brain.