UNC Health Care is first in the Triangle to offer new system for stopping strokes

UNC Health Care has a new tool for stopping a stroke that is already under way, by removing a blood clot in the brain blood vessel that caused the stroke to begin.

May 7, 2008

UNC Health Care is first in the Triangle to offer new system for stopping strokes

UNC Health Care has a new tool for stopping a stroke that is already under way, by removing a blood clot in the brain blood vessel that caused the stroke to begin.

The new tool is called the Penumbra System, which uses a tiny catheter threaded inside the brain’s blood vessels to suction out the clot and restore healthy blood flow. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the system for general use in December 2007, and UNC Health Care began offering treatment with it in March 2008.

“The Penumbra System gives us a powerful new tool to save more lives and save more people from suffering long term brain damage and disability as a result of stroke,” said Dr. Souvik Sen, director of the UNC Stroke Center. “This treatment requires careful selection of patients and a team of stroke experts, which we have at UNC. In addition, the Penumbra System can be used up to 8 hours after symptom onset, extending the window of opportunity in which acute stroke can be treated.”

Dr. Sten Solander, a neurointerventional surgeon at UNC, said that the addition of the Penumbra System at UNC Health Care gives him a new catheter-based technique he can use for treating the type of stroke caused by lack of blood supply to the brain.

“For several years now we’ve been using the clot-busting drug tPA to treat strokes arising from a clot blocking a brain blood vessel,” Solander said. “We’ve also been using a device called the MERCI retriever to remove blood clots from the brains of stroke patients. The Penumbra device gives us access to even smaller vessels in the brain to remove the clot. So, now that we’ve got Penumbra, we are able to successfully treat stroke patients that could not be helped by the MERCI retriever or tPA.”

The Penumbra System is a package of tools used by neurointerventional specialists, such as Dr. Solander, to remove blood clots from the large vessels of the brain that are causing an acute ischemic stroke. It works on the surface of the blood clot, optimizing safety and eliminating the need to push the catheter beyond the blood clot. The Penumbra System is comprised of multiple catheter-based devices of varying sizes, to fit within different sizes of blood vessels. For more information about the Penumbra System, see www.penumbrainc.com.

For more information about stroke treatment at UNC Health Care, see www.uncstroke.org or call (919) 966-5547. 

Media contact: Stephanie Crayton, (919) 966-2860 or scrayton@unch.unc.edu

ABOUT UNC HEALTH CARE
The UNC Health Care System is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. It exists to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina and to provide state-of-the-art patient care. UNC Health Care is comprised of UNC Hospitals, which is ranked among the top 50 in the nation in six specialties by U.S. News & World Report and ranked one of the country’s 41 best on the Leapfrog 2007 Top Hospitals list; the UNC School of Medicine, a nationally eminent research institution; community practices; home health and hospice services in seven central North Carolina counties; and Rex Healthcare and its provider network in Wake County. UNC Health Care also manages Chatham Hospital in Siler City.
 

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