New treatment helps reverse paralysis in stroke victims

In the time it takes you to read this story two people will have a stroke. They kill 133,000 Americans each year.

Half the people who survive a stroke will have some degree of paralysis. But doctors believe a new device could help that number drop dramatically. I'll show you how it saved one man's mobility and why it could do the same for many others.

Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke.

"Time is brain," says the Director of Interventional Neurology and Co-Director Endovascular Neurosurgery, Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery at University of Miami Health System Dileep R. Yavagal, MD.

Jorge Lazo recently suffered a major stroke.

"My mouth was turning to the side," explains Jorge Lazo a stroke patient.

"I thought that he was not going to be alive," says Jorge’s girlfriend Beatriz Rodriguez.

Two blood clots stopped the flow of blood and oxygen to his brain, paralyzing the left side of his body.

"This is the kind of stroke that leaves the patient disabled for life," explains Dr. Yavagal.

Clot-busting drugs couldn't dissolve the blockages. But Doctor Dileep Yavagal at Jackson Memorial Hospital had something brand new to try on Jorge.

Something FDA approved just 29 days before Jorge's stroke. Five and a half hours after the stroke the doctor performed this catheter-based surgery with the solitaire device. Once in the brain the closed mesh tube goes through the clot. Then the tube opens up and grabs it.

"Allowing us to retain the clot as we're pulling the device out of the body," describes Dr. Yavagal.

Studies show solitaire is twice as effective as similar clot-removing tools.

"The procedure went really fast,” said Dr. Yavagal. “I was able to get both clots out within the hour."

When the blood flow was restored, something amazing happened.

"He lifted his leg right off the bed, which was so thrilling," explains Dr. Yavagal.

Jorge regained function of his left side. He's able to walk and thanks to rehab is lifting his left arm too.

"Usually patients need more time to achieve what he's achieving," describes Dr. Ana Delgado, MD, a Neurologist and Neuro Rehabilitation Fellow at University of Miami Health System.

He's mobile because of this micro-blood clot remover that made it to market just in the nick of time. Jorge is now home and is doing outpatient rehab to help restore more of his function.

The doctor tells us he's gotten similar paralysis reversing results with other patients he's used the solitaire device on. He says the biggest risk with the device is bleeding in the brain, but the risk is lower than with similar devices.


REPORT: MB # 3481

BACKGROUND: A stroke is like a "brain attack"; it occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 140,000 people in the US die each year from stroke. It is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. (Source: National Stroke Association, the Stroke

* Ischemic Stroke
Blood clots are dangerous because they can block arteries and cut off blood flow, a process called ischemia. An ischemic stroke can occur in two ways: embolic and thrombotic strokes
* Embolic Stroke
A blood clot forms somewhere in the body (usually the heart) and travels through the bloodstream to your brain. Once in your brain, the clot will travel to a blood vessel small enough to block its passage. The clot lodges there, blocking the blood vessel and causing a stroke.
* Thrombotic Stroke
In the second type of blood-clot stroke, blood flow is impaired because of a blockage to one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. The process leading to this blockage is known as thrombosis.
* Hemorrhagic Stroke
Strokes caused by the breakage or "blowout" of a blood vessel in the brain are called hemorrhagic strokes. (Source: National Stroke Association)

TREATMENT: Tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), or alteplase, is a clot-buster drug that dissolves the blood clot causing the stroke. There is a narrow window of opportunity to use this drug, so the earlier that it is given, the better the result and the less potential for bleeding into the brain. Aspirin or anticoagulants like heparin are also used. Rehabilitation is also used to restore strength to the patient and get them used to their post-stroke lifestyle. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Solitaire(tm) FR Revascularization Device is a mechanical thrombectomy device combining the ability to restore blood flow, administer medical therapy, and retrieve clot in patients experiencing acute ischemic stroke. It mechanically breaks up and removes the blood clot. It has optimal radial force for flowing through all clot types, stable recanalization for the adjunctive use of medical therapy, and optimal metal to tissue ratio for reliable clot retrieval. It has demonstrated effective clot removal in vessels sized 2 to 5.5 mm. (Source: Covidien)

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Lorraine Nelson
Media Relations
Jackson Memorial Hospital
(305) 585-7201

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