Surgeons have used the newly approved Covidien Solitaire FR revascularization device to restore critical blood flow to a patient’s brain

Newport News, Va - Riverside Regional Medical Center is among the first hospitals in Virginia to use a new cutting-edge tool in treating patients experiencing a stroke.

Riverside endovascular surgeons Wolfgang Leesch, M.D., and Frank Sanderson, M.D., used Covidien's newly approved Solitaire FR revascularization device to remove a blood clot and restore blood flow to a patient's brain, saving the patient from what could have been a life-threatening stroke.

"This is the most cutting-edge technology in restoring blood flow to clotted arteries," Leesch said. "It's really a quantum leap forward."

A 67-year-old man awoke Friday, July 13, with slurred speech and weakness in his face, arm and leg on the left side of his body. He went to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital and underwent a CT scan, which showed blood clots cutting off blood flow to his brain. He was flown by medical helicopter to Riverside Regional Medical Center. Leesch and Sanderson used the Solitaire device to retrieve the clots, and blood flow returned. The patient, who is recovering in Riverside Rehabilitation Institute, has since regained strength in his leg and is regaining strength in his arm.

How it works
When a patient undergoes a stroke, endovascular specialists can try to remove the clots with such methods as corkscrew-shaped coils or by suction. The new Solitaire FR device deploys a stent, or a metal mesh tube, that snags the clot and pulls it out when the stent is withdrawn.

The Solitaire device received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in March after a clinical trial revealed the new system outperformed the corkscrew-shaped Merci Retriever. The study of 200 patients ended after 113 patients when results showed that the Solitaire device was 2.5 times better in restoring blood flow to the brain. The Solitaire device patients demonstrated a 1.7-fold improvement in post-stroke neurological function and a 55 percent reduction in mortality at 90 days.

Why it matters
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Every year, about 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke. Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies of stroke every four minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common type is the ischemic stroke, which occurs when blood clots block the blood vessels to the brain. They represent about 87 percent of all strokes. 

The highest death rates from stroke are in the southeastern U.S. Stroke risk factors include inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.

To ensure speedy treatment of stroke, know the symptoms. Think FAST. F stands for facial weakness, A for arm weakness, S for slurred or garbled speech and T for time.

"Do not wait. Immediately call 911 if any of these symptoms occur," Leesch said.

Riverside Regional Medical Center is a designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, which means it's specially equipped to handle stroke patients quickly. Fast treatment is crucial when it comes to restoring blood flow to the brain. With three endovascular surgeons, it's the only hospital on the Peninsula offering around-the-clock interventional treatment of stroke.

The new Solitaire device is the newest tool amid Riverside's full complement of vascular treatment options for the head and neck.


Published: August 7, 2012