Stanford technology offers new hope for people who have had strokes

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- A new technology developed in the Bay Area could dramatically change the way doctors treat thousands of stroke patients. And researchers at Stanford say it has the potential to change lives as well.

When we first met Nora Kasapligil 18 months ago when she was recovering from a life-threatening stroke that hit at age 19.

"I think I tried saying like I have to go to work, and instead of it coming out like that, I said I have to go, go, go, go to work.."

Even worse, the stroke struck while she was sleeping. It's a heartbreaking scenario for doctors because treatments like clot-dissolving drugs and emergency surgeries have traditionally needed to start just hours after symptoms begin.

"So when a somebody wakes up with a stroke, they're outside of our six-hour treatment window and they don't meet the guidelines for being treated," says Dr. Gregory Albers, director of the Stanford Stroke Center.

RELATED: Kaiser study shows new program cuts stroke treatment time in half

But Dr. Albers says new technology developed at Stanford is about to shatter that window, revolutionizing stroke treatment.

It's a C/T imaging system called RAPID that allows doctors to quickly analyze the area of the brain affected by the stroke.

A green color in the image represents living, salvageable, tissue with a presumed low risk of hemorrhage. And if there's enough green, doctors can decide to insert a catheter into a blood vessel and pull out the blood clot causing the stroke. The method was tested extensively in multiple clinical trials.

"And what we found was that there was a dramatic difference in outcomes. The patients with the clot removal therapy, nearly half of them went home with essentially no disability from the stroke," Dr. Albers said.

Data from the trials was so powerful, the American Stroke Association issued new guidelines shortly after it was released, expanding the potential treatment window for certain patients to up to 24 hours after the stroke.

In Nora's case, doctors at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco were able to use an earlier imaging technology while clinical trials were in progress to remove her clot, a procedure that's left her without symptoms and excited about her future.

Written and produced by Tim Didion
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