AUSTIN -- Imagine medical trials being stopped early because the results were too good. That's what's happened with brain stent technology that researchers decided is so effective it needs to be offered to more patients.
Most of us have heard of heart stents, used to prop open a clogged artery, and then remain in the body. While the technology is similar for stroke care in the brain, it's different in the sense that stents are used to remove the clot completely, and the stent comes out too.
It's not the way Mae Collins had planned to welcome in the new year.
"Having a stroke was the last thing on my mind," Collins said.
"Right here is where all of a sudden, this large artery is just completely blocked off," said Dr. James Waldron, a neurosurgeon at NeuroTexas Institute at St. David's Healthcare. "This is her clot. This is where her blood just stops."
Waldren said Collins had an 80 percent blockage of a major artery in the left side of her brain.
"She came in with what would be a devastating stroke that would most likely put her in a nursing home, or even cause her to pass away," said Waldren.
But thanks to brain stent technology like the Solitaire FR, Waldren was able to remove the clot and restore blood flow in less than 30 minutes.
"What makes this so exciting is in the past we had clot busting drugs that we would give to patients in the emergency room but those didn't work for the worst strokes," he said.
Waldren said the brain stent is inserted into the clot through a catheter and then both the clot and the stent are removed together. Sort of a plumbing solution to a plumbing problem.
"The idea of them going up into my brain area, and be able to zap out the blood clot was just amazing," said Collins.
"This is basically a game changer in stroke care," said Waldren.
"I know that some people wondered, with me being out as soon as I was able to get out of the hospital and moving around, going to meetings, and going to church, 'Did she really have a stroke?'" said Collins. "I did have a stroke."
Collins' recovery was so amazing she only spent three days in the hospital. Both she and Waldren say even with such game changing technology now available in stroke care, know the warning signs and get to the hospital early if you think you're having a stroke.