Beaumont Physicians Have New Option in Treating Strokes

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Dick Suminski of Rochester Hills credits his Beaumont cardiologist, along with a fast-acting medical team of stroke specialists' with saving his life. He also concedes he was in the right place at the right time.

Suminski had his stroke as he was getting ready to leave Beaumont, Royal Oak where he had been hospitalized to stabilize internal bleeding.

"It was like a movie scenario, everything happened real fast," Suminski explained. "They said all of the sudden I was slurring my words and they asked me to follow their finger with my eyes and I couldn't."

He was not a candidate for the clot busting drug known as t-PA because of the risk of additional internal bleeding. Instead, Suminski received a new treatment for stroke called the Merci Retrieval System. Chris Kazmierczak, M.D., a Beaumont interventional neuroradiologist, used the Merci Retrieval System to remove his clot and restore blood flow to his brain. The Merci device, which looks like a minature corkscrew, is delivered into the brain like a heart catheterization. After a small incision is made in the groin, the device is inserted into the artery and carefully snaked all the way to the brain. When a clot or blockage is detected, the tiny corkscrew is used to capture and remove it.

"The Merci Retrieval System is certainly another important piece of the puzzle in treating strokes," says Dr. Kazmierczak. "Unlike t-PA, which has a three hour treatment window, the Merci device can be effective up to eight hours after the onset of symptoms."

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Dr. Kazmierczak emphasizes that the Merci device can't be used to treat all people with a stroke. While the success rate is good, sometimes the doctors are not successful in extracting the clot.

For stroke warning signs and stroke services at Beaumont click on symptoms.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death, affecting about 700,000 Americans each year. It is also a leading cause of serious and lasting disability.

Within 24 to 48 hours after the successful procedure with the Merci Retrieval System, Suminski's stroke symptoms disappeared. Dr. Kazmierczak explained while the restoration of blood flow happened quickly, it took time for his brain to recover. It's like rebooting a computer.

Earlier this month Suminski celebrated his 82nd birthday. He remains an avid golfer and active member of the Birmingham Senior Men's Club.

Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak has earned the Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The hospital has earned Primary Stroke Center Certification and is one of a few hospitals in Michigan with a team of interventional neuroradiologists available 24/7 to treat strokes.

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