Stroke strikes someone in the United States every 40 seconds. When it does, every second counts. And, in the case of a hemorrhagic stroke – when ruptured blood vessels cause bleeding inside the brain – a patient’s survival depends on it.
While the time to treatment is a critical factor in determining the future of a patient’s health, so is the course of treatment itself. Dr. Pinakin R. Jethwa, a board-certified endovascular neurosurgeon with Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS), recently spoke with NJ Advance Media about new, minimally invasive technology – which he pioneered in Monmouth County earlier this year – that is changing the game for patients and their recovery.
Q: How are brain bleeds traditionally treated?
A: Historically, open brain surgery – called a craniotomy – has been required to reach and remove blood clots. There are cases when craniotomies are the best course of treatment, but in some instances, this technique can unnecessarily expose healthy parts of the brain to damage as sensitive tissue has to be navigated to access and remove the hematoma. In fact, studies have shown many craniotomy patients do not recover as well as expected over the long term because of damage to other parts of the brain.
Q: What new treatments are available to patients with brain bleeds?
A: New, minimally invasive technology – such as The Artemis™ Neuro Evacuation Device – brings more advanced, cutting-edge treatment options to the table. The Artemis Device, which was used for the first time in Monmouth County in a surgery I performed earlier this year, allows a neurosurgeon to access the brain bleed through a small hole in the skull. Think in terms of millimeters rather than centimeters as is the case with a craniotomy. The blood clot can then be removed endoscopically with less trauma and complications for the patient.
Q: Why was the patient in Monmouth County a good candidate for Artemis?
A: The patient was a 50-year-old male who had high blood pressure but was otherwise in good health. When he arrived at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, he was unable to speak or move the right side of his body. His CAT scans showed a brain bleed on the left side of his head. Based on the location and the size of the bleed, as well as his age and overall health, he fit the profile of a patient who would be better served with a minimally invasive approach to treatment.
Q: How does patient recovery compare between the two approaches?
A: This particular case demonstrates how significant the benefits of minimally invasive neurosurgery are for recovery. Just two days after surgery, this patient showed major improvement in his comprehension and was able to move the right side of his body, which was completely paralyzed when he first came in. His post-op scans came back totally clean, and he was discharged from the hospital after one week. At his 30-day follow-up, he walked into my office, and you would never guess what he had been through only one month earlier. With craniotomies, patients are typically in the hospital for weeks, months or more following surgery and have an equally long road to recovery. The comparison is striking.
Q: What should people do if they suspect someone is experiencing a brain bleed?
A: If there are warning signs of a stroke – face drooping, arm weakness or speech difficulty – the most important thing is to recognize there is a problem and seek emergency medical attention. It’s also important to be aware of the different treatment options available so they can be an advocate for their health or the health of their loved ones.
For more information on innovative stroke and neurovascular treatments, visit ansdocs.com/neurovascular_center.php.
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