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New tool broadens stroke treatment options

A sophisticated set of new tools – the Penumbra SystemTM — at ETMC Tyler has dramatically broadened the treatment options for stroke patients.

Offered through the ETMC Neurological Institute, the Penumbra System™ can help save the lives of stroke patients admitted to the ETMC Tyler emergency center. Without this treatment, our only option would be to introduce a medication in hopes of dissolving the clot, according to Bill Tobin, director of radiology at ETMC Tyler.

“Physicians treating patients with acute ischemic stroke often have limited treatment options to offer, particularly for those patients who are past the three-hour time window of conventional treatment,” Tobin said. “The availability of this new endovascular device system can help restore brain blood flow for up to eight hours after the onset of symptoms.”

The Penumbra System™ is a package of tools used by neuro-interventional specialists to remove occlusions from the large vessels of the brain causing an acute ischemic stroke, according to Dr. Kurt Reuland, an interventional neuroradiologist with Tyler Radiology Associates. “We are excited to now have access to this important tool to treat acute ischemic stroke patients in our daily practice. This system of tools is an important advance that may transform the acute treatment of this devastating disease,” Reuland said.

Ischemic stroke
Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. Ischemic stroke can be caused by several different diseases but the most common is narrowing of the arteries in the neck or head. There are two main types of ischemic stroke: thrombotic and embolic. A thrombotic stroke occurs when diseased or damaged cerebral arteries become blocked by the formation of a blood clot within the brain. An embolic stroke is also caused by a clot within an artery but the clot formed somewhere other than the brain.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Over 160,000 people die each year from stroke in the U.S. Strokes can occur at any age but nearly three-quarters occurred in people over the age of 65.

Joint Commission approval
ETMC Tyler’s stroke care program has become one of only a few programs in the state to earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ for stroke care from The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. JCAHO awarded ETMC Tyler a Primary Stroke Center Certification. ETMC pursued this designation in part because of the alarming rate of stroke-related deaths in East Texas.

“The East Texas region has one of the highest stroke mortality rates in our state,” said Troy Thibodeaux, vice president of the ETMC Neurological Institute. “Since part of the effort to earn the certification includes a focus on stroke prevention, we believe it will help us meet our goal to help change that factor in our region.”