About Stent Retrievers
A stent retriever is a medical device used to unclog blood clots that can cause strokes. The stent retriever looks like a small metal cage attached to the end of a long wire. The cage is also collapsible, which makes it possible for a doctor to grab blood clots in your brain and remove them through an artery.
Stent retrievers are often used in combination with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment, consists of using a protein to break down blood clots. Unfortunately, tPA treatment on its own is only successful for about a third of patients.
Stent retrievers are relatively new, but they have already shown their effectiveness. In 2015, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association published guidelines that recommend using stent retrievers in conjunction with tPA. The recommendation came after five extensive studies showed that stent retrievers could reduce the risk of disability following a stroke.
Goal of Using a Stent Retriever
Our goal of using stent retriever is to remove clogs manually from your arteries. Once the clog is removed, blood can flow to all areas of the brain. Assuming that proper blood flow is achieved, stroke symptoms may begin to disappear within minutes. Effects take longer in some patients, though, so don’t feel surprised if you don’t experience an immediate recovery.
How a Stent Retriever Procedure Is Performed
From the patient’s perspective, stent retriever treatments are rather simple. When you receive the treatment, your neurosurgeon will thread a metal wire through an artery in your upper thigh. Once the stent retriever reaches the brain, your doctor will position the cage around the clot. When the cage is fully expanded, it captures the clot, allowing the surgeon to remove it from your artery. Your surgeon will then reverse the process to extract the stent retriever, along with the clot, through your artery. Finally, it exits through the original entry point in your upper thigh.
Typically, you will only receive a stent retriever procedure after your doctor has administered tPA. The combination of treatments tends to work well for the vast majority of patients. You may also get this procedure if you meet following criteria: you don’t qualify for the tPA, a large blood clot is identified on emergent CT scans and your stroke symptoms have not lasted for longer than 6 hours.
Recovery Timeline for Stent Retriever Procedure
Some patients who undergo stent retriever treatments see positive results within minutes. Once the clot is removed, blood can flow normally to the brain and other parts of the body. The procedure’s effectiveness, however, depends on how soon you receive treatment after having a stroke. Ideally, your doctor can use a stent retriever to unblock your artery within six hours of your stroke.
Since stent retrievers only require a small incision in the upper thigh, you can expect to recover from the procedure almost immediately. The effects of a stroke, however, can last longer. The sooner you receive the procedure, the sooner you can recover from your stroke. Many doctors report that stent retrievers can shave months off of their patients’ overall recovery time.
Stroke recovery times vary greatly from patient to patient. You may find that you feel better immediately after your doctor uses the stent retriever. Many people, however, need to enroll in rehabilitation programs before they can recover. Severe strokes may take months or years of recovery time.
Rehab programs focus on helping you regain any skills that you may have lost during the stroke. The specific program will depend on whether the stroke affects your ability to move, walk, speak or perform other activities.
Why Choose Neurosurgeons of New Jersey
Who you choose as your surgeon can greatly affect your procedure’s success and the overall experience you will have. At Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, each doctor specializes in only their specific area of surgery, making us the largest, sub-specialized surgical practice in tri-state area. Our surgeons use this specific knowledge and their decades of experience in the field to create a clear, open relationship with their patients. When you choose Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, you benefit from the cutting edge medical technology and a staff that truly cares about giving you a calm, comfortable experience.