Procedure makes immediate impact for fortunate stroke patient
It only took a few minutes to stop Wanda's stroke – but it was quite a few minutes.
Wanda was at a local hospital in early April with her husband for an outpatient appointment when the symptoms hit. She couldn't speak or move, slumping over on her right side. She remembers her husband yelling, "Nurse!," and then riding in an ambulance to The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health.
"I just remember little bits and pieces," Wanda says. "There were nurses around me doing a lot of stuff. The life squad going through the lights, and the sirens were blaring. My brain was saying, 'Move my arm," but it just wouldn't move."
Minutes later at Jewish Hospital, Mayfield neurosurgeon Dr. Jonathan Hodes performed a procedure called a thrombectomy, removing a clot in the blood vessels leading to Wanda's brain. The effect was immediate. After her procedure, Wanda's voice cleared up, and she sat up on the operating table and spoke clearly.
Dr. Hodes says the immediate restoration of Wanda's speech was unusual. He calls Wanda's case a classic example of why every second is critical in treating a stroke.
"The fact that she immediately recovered her speech is an indication that we had salvaged the brain function," Dr. Hodes says. "It made a big difference for her."
Dr. Hodes says that without immediate intervention, 30% of patients in Wanda's circumstances would not have survived, and only 30% of those who did survive would be able to live independently. The fact that she was in a hospital when symptoms hit meant that her stroke was recognized immediately and she was taken to a certified stroke center.
"Because of that, she moved through the system of care very quickly," he says.
Working with 15 hospital emergency rooms across the region, Mayfield is using artificial intelligence to reduce the time when a neurosurgeon is able to remove the blockage to the supply of blood to the brain. The algorithm on the cloud-based server analyzes the initial scan and data from millions of other cases in minutes to help physicians determine whether the patient is likely experiencing a large-vessel occlusion, a severe ischemic stroke when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed.
Mayfield neurovascular specialists, including Dr. Hodes, are alerted immediately through a mobile phone app, created by the software platform Viz.ai, to any case that arrives at multiple local health systems in Greater Cincinnati. When saving a few minutes can make a difference in a patient's outcome, the artificial intelligence system can help get a patient into the angiography suite immediately. Read more about the early-alert system here.
In Wanda's case, she was helped by the fact that she retained some collateral blood flow to her brain through other arteries, a temporary advantage that helped salvage her brain function, according to Dr. Hodes.
Wanda stayed at The Jewish Hospital for more than a week before returning to her home in Williamsburg, about 30 miles east of Cincinnati. Today, she says she's pretty much back to her condition before the stroke. She gets help from her nearby family and is conscious of how quickly she gets tired. She's hoping to return soon to some of her normal activities, including bowling and fishing.
Dr. Hodes says a lot had to go right in Wanda's case, and it shows the strength of the region's integrated care network. Her recovery, the neurosurgeon says, is inspirational.
"This kind of case," he says, "is what keeps me doing what I do."
~ Cliff Peale
Hope Story Disclaimer -"Wanda's story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.