Innovative stroke treatment offered at St. Vincent


On May 18, Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine conducted a study session to educate local fire and emergency service departments on special procedures to treat stroke.

Through a partnership with Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis, Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine offer a procedure called a thrombectomy, which uses a patient’s blood vessels as a highway to snake tools to wherever a blood clot is and removes it.


“We use what is essentially a real-time X-ray movie as guidance,” Dr. Daniel Sahlein of Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine said. “It’s called fluoroscopy, and we take a catheter, a long skinny tube, enter through the big artery of the leg, sometimes the artery in the wrist, thread that through the vessels in the body, get to the vessel in the neck that supplies that part of the arterial tree, then we inject contrasting agent, or X-ray dye, so we can see exactly where the obstruction is. Then we actually put two additional catheters through there, too, so through a series of three catheters, each inside each other (and) we push up to the level of the clot where we use a little self-expanding stent connected to a wire that acts like a rake, and we also use a fairly large catheter after we open the side of the artery in the head that we apply suction to.

“We literally try to manually vacuum out the clot while trying to rake it out at the same time. We have a whole series of tools that we can use to pull obstructing clots out of vessels in the head.”

The entire procedure takes an average of 20 minutes.

“During these procedures we are on the clock, because during an obstruction of a large artery in the head, the brain, beyond that obstruction, is essentially dying at some rate that we can’t determine,” Sahlein said. “In order to save as much brain function as possible, we have to extract that clot as quickly as possible.”

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in Indiana and afflicts 795,000 Americans each year.


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