Advanced Brain Imaging Technology May Provide Doctors More Time to Treat Strokes

New research indicates that doctors may have more time to effectively respond to ischemic strokes. Strokes represent the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing 142,142 people in 2016. Approximately 85% of the 800,000 people that suffer strokes every year experience an ischemic stroke.

Two studies recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that doctors may have up to 1624 hours to save threatened brain tissue from a blockage in a major blood vessel leading to the brain. Prior to the new findings, medical professionals believed that endovascular thrombectomy, the surgical removal of the clot, was only effective if performed within 6 hours after the onset of the stroke.

Though some brain tissue dies immediately after a stroke begins, collateral blood vessels supply blood to a larger area of the brain that is deprived of oxygen, providing more time for doctors to clear the blockage and save the endangered brain tissue. Advanced CT imaging and MRIs can estimate how much brain tissue has been irreversibly damaged by the lack of oxygen and what brain tissue is salvageable. The advanced imaging techniques allow doctors to better identify the patients who will respond well to endovascular treatment.

The studies have upended much of what the medical community previously understood about strokes. Accordingly, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have published new guidelines for the management of patients with acute ischemic stroke. The guidelines recommend a 24-hour window for clot removal and also expand eligibility for rtPA, a clot dissolving drug used to treat ischemic strokes.

Strokes can be lethal and prompt treatment is necessary for survival. Despite the increased window of opportunity to treat patients with ischemic strokes, healthcare professionals continue to provide negligent medical care to stroke patients. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have a successful track record representing stroke victims and their families in medical negligence actions. Contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been harmed by stroke-related malpractice.