THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (the Hospital) is one of ten sites in Ontario, and 24 sites across Canada to offer enhanced access to a procedure that drastically improves outcomes for stroke patients.
As of February 19th, the Hospital is able to offer Endovascular Treatment (EVT) for multiple weeks per month, meaning more patients in Northwestern Ontario will have access to this treatment.
Endovascular Treatment (EVT) is indicated for patients with acute ischemic strokes and large vessel occlusion (LVO) that removes large stroke-causing clots from the brain and substantially improves the chance for a better outcome. Time-is-brain in acute stroke treatment and prolonged times to accessing EVT may reduce benefits for eligible patients.
Most strokes are caused by a blockage or clot in a blood vessel in your brain. This is called ischemic stroke. The blockage can be caused when a substance called plaque builds up on the inside wall of an artery. The blockage or clot grows as blood cells and fat cells stick to the plaque. Gradually, it grows big enough to block normal blood flow.
The blockage or clot can form in an artery in your brain. Or, it can form in the neck artery or the heart and travel to the brain.
Patients with these type of blockages often receive tPA, a clot-busting drug. However, the size and placement of the blockage, and the timing of accessing treatment may require patients to receive EVT.
“Our Hospital is incredibly fortunate to be able to offer Endovascular Treatment to our patients,” said Meaghan Sharp, Director, Cardiovascular & Stroke Program at the Hospital. “As one of only 24 sites with EVT across the country, we’re in elite company. While there is a definite need for this type of treatment in our region, it also speaks volumes about the quality and dedication of our skilled health care providers working in stroke.”
EVT is an image-guided procedure for clot removal using a catheter most commonly inserted through the groin. It is carried out by neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons, or neurologists with neurointerventional skills. Our Hospital currently has one provider, Dr. Graeme Marchuk, a neurosurgeon, who lends his expertise to perform this procedure.
It is a safe, highly effective treatment that saves lives and dramatically reduces disability.
“EVT is a remarkable treatment option for stroke patients who won’t see a lot of benefit from tPA because of the size or placement of the clot,” said Dr. Ayman Hassan, Medical Lead, Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network. “It’s not only a procedure that saves lives, it has also been clinically proven to lead to better patient outcomes. Someone who would be destined to have deficits without EVT can be returned to normal or near-normal quality of life.”
The availability of EVT at our Hospital benefits patients in communities across the region.
“Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre is in full support of the expansion of the access to EVT within the North West LHIN. Knowing that there is a significant improved outcome and reduction in death rate for those who are candidates for EVT, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is positively impacting patient outcomes,” said Samantha Brooks, Chief Nursing Executive, Director of Patient Care Services at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre. “Our partnership with the Hospital and their Stroke Program demonstrates a collaboration that ameliorates both access to care and health outcomes for all of our regional clients.”
Even with the availability of clot-busting medication and EVT, it’s important to remember that stroke is a treatable medical emergency where every minute can have a significant impact on a patient’s survival and recovery. F.A.S.T. is an acronym to help people identify the symptoms of a stroke: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call 911 right away.