There are so many amazing procedures and innovative tests that are performed regularly by the skilled physicians at my radiology group clients. But the work of the neurointerventional radiologists who save lives and ward off disability for their ischemic stroke patients has been the most inspiring for me. Their work changes lives in very tangible ways.
A New York Times Magazine article celebrates endovascular thrombectomy, or EVT. treatments for stroke patients: "In the hospital’s angiography suite, a neuroradiologist, guided by X-ray imaging, pierced [the patient's] femoral artery at the top of his inner thigh and threaded a microcatheter through his body, northbound to the brain. The clot was extracted from his middle cerebral artery and pulled out through the incision in his groin. Just like that, blood flow was restored, and soon his symptoms all but disappeared."
Speed is of the essence. As this wonderful feature story portrays, to get the patient into the angio suite on time, it takes the skills and dedication of first responders: the original 911 dispatcher, the paramedics, a call center, the transport logistics team and the stroke team that will receive the patient. "And to have the best outcome, those handoffs need to happen in minutes, not hours."
Sadly, the United States and the rest of the world experience disparity in access to endovascular thrombectomy services. Approximately 1.7 million people world-wide annually experience an ischemic stroke. But only about 240,000 thrombectomies are being performed around the world each year. These services save lives and improve the quality of life, but ways to help a much greater number of the patient population must be found.
More needs to be done. But let's celebrate the commitment and training of first responders, and the amazing skills and techniques of the neurointerventionalists.