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.