Leading the Way With Cutting-Edge Technology
by Annette Pinder
It’s nearly impossible to discuss cardiovascular disease, without also talking about stroke. In fact, heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death for men and women in the nation, and account for more than one-third of all U.S. deaths. Heart disease and stroke also are among the leading causes of disability in the U.S., affecting nearly 4 million people.
Recently, Dr. Kenneth Snyder, assistant professor of neurosurgery, neurology and radiology for UB Neurosurgery (UBNS), Dr. Elad Levy, chair of UBNS and medical director for stroke at Gates Vascular Institute (GVI), talked about cutting-edge science that is taking place at GVI. “Most people don’t realize that GVI is the number one stroke center in the country. We are treating twice the volume of stroke patients here in Buffalo than the nation’s number two stroke center. And we are teaching the doctors at Duke, Harvard and Cleveland Clinic how to perform procedures developed right here in Buffalo,” says Dr. Levy.
One of those procedures involves the use of retrievable stents, pioneered ten years ago by former chair of UBNS and current GVI president Dr. Nelson Hopkins. Now UB Neurosurgeons are participating in 40 to 60 of the most cutting-edge surgical trials and procedures not available anywhere else in country. One of these uses software developed by Dr. Snyder called CT Perfusion. Time is of the essence when treating a stroke because brain tissue dies, and few institutions treat people who wake up from a stroke. CT Perfusion allows physicians at GVI to look at the physiology of the brain to determine if the tissue is still alive. If it is, they can go in and take the clots out of the brain.
“There is nothing more exciting than seeing a patient who can’t speak or move the side of their body, get up without any assistance, following removal of the clots, and say ‘thank you,’” says Dr. Snyder.
Now Dr. Levy is leading an investigation in a multi-center clinical trial that is testing these concepts, which will, likely, be published very soon. “This is a $50 million trial that involves the United States, Canada and Europe. The trial is testing the use of retrievable stents or clot busters, rather than surgery for strokes.” While he can’t say very much about the trial yet, Dr. Levy is optimistic, and calls the technology an amazing lifesaver.
So what do Drs. Snyder and Levy want people to know? Take stroke symptoms seriously! If you have sudden numbness, are unable to speak, or lose vision in one eye, get seen immediately, even if it goes away. Don’t blow off symptoms. The physicians at GVI’s ER can verify whether it was a stroke or not.
GVI has truly developed a center of expertise that includes emergency medical specialist, including a neurology emergency room team that specializes in stroke, a specialized imaging department, a surgical and stroke intensive care unit, and operating room, angioplasty, and rehab teams. “Every aspect of specialty care is built into the stroke team,” says Dr. Levy. He adds, “To create a center of excellence, you need everything – from soup to nuts. From entry to exit, neuroscience care at GVI is unique, involves a whole team effort, and under the leadership of Kaleida president and CEO, Jody Lomeo, “It’s an exciting place to be.”
If you or a loved one has had stroke symptoms, don’t wait. Call 911 or get to GVI immediately. Learn more at kaleidahealth.org/gvi.