Torrance Memorial Medical Center operates one of the busiest Interventional
Radiology programs in the South Bay. Armed with the knowledge gained from
the CT scan, the physicians in Interventional Radiology can determine
exactly where a blockage has occurred in the brain by inserting a thin
flexible tube called a catheter into the carotid artery and injecting
contrast into the blood vessels. The contrast mixes with the blood, showing
blood flowing through the intricate vessel network in the brain and reveals
the precise location of any blockages.
Intravenous (IV) tPA
If an acute stroke patient qualifies for the clot-busting drug, tPA, it
can be administered intravenously, through an intravenous line (IV line)
in the arm. This is called intravenous (IV) tPA. The medication will travel
through the blood stream until it reaches the blood vessel where the clot
is located and dissolve it.
Another method of administering tPA, called intra-arterial tPA puts the
medication directly where the clot is located. A catheter is inserted
up to, or inside the clot in the brain and tPA is fed directly on the
clot, dissolving it.
A Mechanical Approach
Some patients may not qualify for tPA, or they may come to the hospital
too late to have the drug administered. These patients may benefit from
a new, innovative mechanical method performed at Torrance Memorial to
remove all or part of the clot, without the trauma of major surgery. Using
a micro-catheter, our interventional radiologist uses a specialized clot
retrieval device to literally remove the clot from a blood vessel from
inside the brain. The technique is similar to what is done in the catheterization
laboratory or cath lab in Cardiology to open blood vessels of the heart.