Neurosciences Unveils Advanced Technology for Treating Stroke Patients

Armen Hareyan's picture

Treatment of Stroke

The Alexian Neurosciences Institute is taking a quantum leap forward in the treatment of stroke patients with the establishment of a neuroendovascular program, including a new neuroangiography suite, at Alexian Brothers Medical Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Ill.

The program is an extension of a partnership established last year between Alexian Brothers Hospital Network (ABHN) and the Neurosurgery Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Under the partnership, UIC neurosurgeons have joined with their neurosurgical colleagues at ABHN to bring on-site advanced neurosurgical techniques to Chicago's northwest suburbs for the first time.

Now, two UIC neuroradiology interventionalists, Tim Malisch, M.D., and Soma Sinha Roy, M.D., will bring their expertise to ABHN, anchoring the neuroendovascular program and staffing the $5.5 million state-of- the-art Siemens neuroangiography suite, located next to the Diagnostic Imaging Department on the first floor of ABMC.

"There are very few physicians trained to do neuroendovascular interventions," says Mark Frey, ABHN Vice President for Neuroscience Development. "This is the leading edge of stroke treatment and technology."

Neuroangiography is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure that involves the use of X-rays, injected contrast media and sophisticated computer software to create real-time images of blood vessels in the brain. The contrast media flows with the blood, highlighting the blood vessels and their characteristics in the X-ray images.

The neuroangiography suite also is known as a "biplane unit" because X-rays are taken on two different planes simultaneously.

"This means you need only one injection of contrast media for the patient, while you are taking two sets of pictures at the same time," Frey says. "This approach is valuable because it reduces risk for the patient because fewer injections of contrast media are needed. It also helps to save time and expense as well."

The X-ray images provide a three-dimensional road map of blood vessels for the neuroradiology interventionalist, who can proceed immediately to clear any blood-vessel blockages during a minimally invasive neuroendovascular intervention.


"The advantage of our system is that by having neuroangiography done by a neuroradiology interventionalist, the patient does not have to be taken off the table if an intervention is necessary," Frey says. "In some hospitals, an angiogram may be done to determine what's wrong with the patient, but then the patient may need to be brought back for a separate procedure by a different physician or transferred to another facility altogether. We can do the angiogram and the intervention, if appropriate, at the same time while the patient is in the biplane suite."

The neuroangiography suite is designed for, among other things, patients who have suffered a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief stroke that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted for a short time. TIAs are considered precursors of full- fledged strokes. Patients with aneurysms and arterio venous malformations (a cluster of tangled blood vessels) also can benefit from neuroangiography and neuroendovascular intervention.

The neuroendovasuclar program has been structured as a 24/7 operation. "We don't know when a person will come in with a stroke," Frey says. "Our goal is to move the patient quickly into the neuroangiography suite and get our team assembled fast, even if it's 2 a.m."

The neuroendovascular program is the centerpiece of the Alexian Neurosciences Institute's Stroke Center, which took another major step forward recently with the introduction at ABMC of Non- invasive Optimal Vessel Analysis (NOVA) for screening, diagnosis, clinical management and monitoring of stroke patients.

NOVA is a non-invasive procedure that uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in combination with advanced computer software to calculate volumetric blood flow for any vessel in the neurovascular system. NOVA technology then presents the information in a 3-D interactive format.

"The advantage of NOVA is that it can demonstrate if a patient has blockages in their neurovascular system, which is particularly important if they are prone to having a stroke or already have had one," says Fady T. Charbel, M.D., Professor and Head of UIC's Neurosurgery Department and Medical Director for the new Alexian Neurosciences Institute. "It also provides an objective evaluation of the nature of the blockage. You can quantify how serious the blockage actually is, which can drive clinical decision-making."

NOVA also can be used after a neuroendovascular intervention to determine whether the procedure was successful in restoring blood flow to an acceptable level, Charbel says. "The two technologies complement each other," he says.

Together, the neuroangiography suite and NOVA give ABHN state-of-the-art technology for treating stroke, a vital capability in Chicago's northwest suburbs, where stroke rates exceed the national average. "We now have the tools and options for patients which will improve the quality of their care, and help take our neurosciences program to the next level," Charbel says. "It's certainly where you want to be in terms of stroke treatment."

It's unusual for a community-based hospital network to have a neuroendovascular program, but ABHN's partnership with UIC, which has one of the nation's top neurology and neurosurgical programs, makes it possible, Frey says. "Most community hospitals never develop this type of capability," he says. "That's one of the advantages of being in a relationship with a group like UIC. You gain access to intellectual capital that you otherwise would not have."

Elk Grove Village, IL, June 2, 2004 -


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