News and Events

When Every Second Counts: Red Carpet Stroke Treatment at Rambam

Publication Date: 11/25/2015 8:00 AM

In recent weeks, two extraordinary stroke cases were successfully treated at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus, thanks to a unique, time-saving “Red Carpet Treatment” track.

See text for details. Photography: Pioter Fliter.See text for details. Photography: Pioter Fliter.

The first patient, a 93 year old woman, made history when she became the oldest stroke victim in Israel to successfully undergo mechanical thrombectomy to remove the blockage in her brain. Once admitted to Rambam, the patient was given the fast-track, red carpet treatment for suspected stroke patients, under the supervision of Prof. Gregory Talman of the Neurology Department and Dr. Yaakov Amsalem, Director of the Interventional Neuroradiology Unit.

Tests revealed that the patient had suffered an ischemic stroke, with a total blockage of the artery that supplies blood and oxygen to the left side of her brain. Taking into account the patient’s age and the complexity of the procedure, as well as her general good health before the incident, it was decided to perform a mechanical thrombectomy. In this complex and delicate procedure, a catheter is guided to the site of the blockage, which is captured and removed by a specially fitted stent. This treatment is available in only six hospitals in Israel, and Rambam is one of them.

In patients of such advanced age, the arteries are often twisted and fragile, making the procedure even more difficult. Yet it went successfully, and within two hours after arriving in the emergency room, the blockage was removed. One day after the surgery, the patient was fully functioning, communicating and laughing with her family. “We couldn’t believe she recovered so quickly, so soon after major surgery,” observed Prof. Talman.

In the second case, a 67 year old woman from Gaza was actually at Rambam when she suffered a stroke. After traveling to Haifa to escort her 13-year-old grandson for a periodic treatment at Ruth Children’s Hospital, the two were staying in the hospital’s residence for patient’s families when the event occurred. Seeing his grandmother’s condition, with half of her body paralyzed, the youth urgently called a medical team, who immediately transferred the stricken woman to the emergency department.

The patient was admitted to the red carpet treatment track, and after undergoing tests, was diagnosed with an ischemic stroke. Because over four hours had elapsed since she had last been seen functioning normally, the medical team decided that the window of time available for using drugs to open the clogged artery had passed, and that a mechanical thrombectomy was the best alternative.

“The patient was very lucky to be here when she had a stroke,” said Dr Amsalem. “In such cases, time is a critical factor, and the type of treatment she needed just happens to be available here. From the moment she reached the emergency department to the time the blockage was cleared was an hour and 15 minutes –record time for patients like this.”

At Rambam, the ability to perform mechanical thrombectomies is yet another example of how state of the art interventional approaches are transforming the standard of health care and saving precious lives.

Pictured: Top L) Professor Gregory Talman with his 95-year-old patient. Bottom L) Elderly woman and her grandson, both from Gaza. Right) Dr. Yaakov Amsalem, Head of Interventional Neuroradiology performing a brain catheterization procedure.