News and Stories from the Texas Medical Community


Joe Shin Saved by Breakthrough Stroke Treatment

By on December 26, 2011 in Health News Texas with 0 Comments

Thanks to some quick thinking by a patient, effective teamwork and new medical technology, a 28-year-old Central Texas man is well on his way to recovery from a devastating, usually fatal ischemic stroke.

On a Sunday afternoon, Joe Shin was playing basketball, experienced classic stroke symptoms – weakness, dizziness and difficulty speaking – and asked his friends to call 9-1-1. He was quickly transported to the Emergency Department at Seton Medical Center Austin where emergency room physicians performed a specialized CT scan. It showed a large blood clot blocking the artery to his brain stem. He was immediately given the clot-busting drug, t-PA.

Dr. Neal Rutledge, Medical Director for Stroke at the Brain & Spine Center, a member of the Seton Family of Hospitals.

Dr. Neal Rutledge, Medical Director for Stroke at the Brain & Spine Center, a member of the Seton Family of Hospitals, then used a new device called the Penumbra System®. It uses a catheter-guided device to break up and remove the clot and restores blood flow back to the patient’s brain.

Rutledge and other interventional neuroradiologists at the Brain & Spine Center received specialized training on the Penumbra System which allows them to use the device within the Seton Family of Hospitals.

“Fortunately for the patient, the Brain & Spine Center is one of a very few stroke programs in the country offering this treatment,” explains Dr. Rutledge.

Dr. Rutledge says most patients do not get to the hospital in a timely manner for treatment. Knowing when to call 9-1-1 is key. He says to remember FAST: Is there asymmetric Facial weakness, Arm weakness, or difficulty Speaking? Then it’s Time to call 9-1-1.

The treatment window for strokes using clot-busting drugs is three hours. Newer tools like the Penumbra System® expand that window to eight hours. Ongoing research trials at the Brain & Spine Center are extending that window to 14 hours.

“I had visions of being paralyzed for the rest of my life and didn’t know what to think. I definitely didn’t expect to walk out of the hospital just five days later,” explains the patient.

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