Posted at: 12/13/2012 4:46 PM
Updated at: 12/13/2012 6:40 PM
By: Benita Zahn
ALBANY - This is a much merrier Christmas season for Dan and Sue Nugent than it might have been.
That's because Dan, despite being trim and an avid walker, suffered a stroke back in March.
"Around 3:30 in the morning" says Sue "he seemed to be tossing and turning a lot and he wasn't answering me when I was nudging him."
Because doctors at Ellis Medicine didn't know when the stroke started they treated him with a clot busting drug and had him airlifted to Albany Med where doctors are using the Solitaire device.
As neurosurgeon, Dr. Alan Boulos explains, the solitaire device can be used when clot busting drugs don't do the job or when the patient may be beyond the four and half hours those drugs are most effective.
It's used when a large brain artery is affected. Dan fit the criteria.
Doctors thread a very fine wire, generally up through the groin. It goes across the clot. A specially designed stent is then threaded along that wire.
Doctors wait 5 minutes as the clot folds into and is caught by the stent.
As the blood begins flowing again the clot begins to dissolve. What's left is slowly pulled out of the artery with the help of a balloon that's expanded in the artery.
Because of the way this device works, and because clots often occur at a juncture in the artery, all of the clot is removed in one pass.
In the past doctors might have to go into the artery, repeatedly to clear it. The single action adds to the success rate for Solitaire, compared with other, older devices.
"I think it's higher because the procedure's quicker. So it's more efficient and then also because it removes the clots from the other vessel on a regular basis. We've had that experience. I think the patients do recover faster" explains Dr. Boulos.
As for Dan and Sue -- the hospital stay is behind them - but their delight in his recovery, is still fresh.
"I guess I was lucky that it worked" says a smiling, Dan.