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Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and is the number one cause of disability. A stroke can be caused by blockage to blood flow in one or more of the arteries supplying the brain (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel breaks and starts bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Interventional neuroradiology techniques are used to treat both forms of stroke.
When an ischemic stroke (blockage in blood flow) occurs, it may start either in the brain artery or be caused by a blood clot from the heart, which floats up into a brain artery. When the blockage is complete and lasts long enough, a portion of the brain may die unless the artery is re-opened rapidly.
Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels in the blood, and smoking can predispose a person to having a stroke. Symptoms of a stroke can include weakness or numbness in a part of the body, difficulty seeing, or difficulty speaking.
There are treatments to open the blockages, but they should be performed within a few hours of symptom onset. Giving a clot-busting drug through a vein can treat some strokes. If given early enough after the stroke starts, the drug may open the artery and increase the patient's chances of making a good recovery. However, sometimes the medication through the vein does not work or the medication cannot be given because the symptoms have been going on too long. In these situations our interventional neuroradiologists can often thread a catheter into the brain artery and remove the clot using a number of devices designed to grab the clot and pull it from the circulation.
The Stanford Medicine Online Second Opinion program offers you easy access to our world-class doctors. It’s all done remotely and you don’t have to visit our hospital or one of our clinics for this service. You don’t even need to leave home!