New brain procedures saving lives | News

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New brain procedures saving lives
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Experts say nearly 800,000 people in this country suffer from a new or recurrent stroke each year. A timely diagnosis and treatment can increases a patient's chance of survival. For the first time in Maine, there is a one of a kind specialist who is performing less invasive surgeries on patients. The procedures are reducing the risk of complications and shortening recovery times.

Donald Cohen was talking to his wife on the phone last September when something terrible happened.

I started slurring my speech and I didn't have any feeling on my left side.

Cohen was having a stoke. He was actually at Mercy Hospital when it happened, where he had just had heart procedure. He was transported to Maine Medical Center where Endovascular Surgeon Dr. Robert Ecker performed Endovascular surgery on Cohen. Dr. Ecker is with Maine Medical Partners - Neurosurgery and Spine.

The innovative and less invasive procedure is used to treat a variety of medical disorders without open surgery. The technique involves entering a blood vessel in the arm or leg.

'We can actually go up into the blood vessels of the brain itself and give clot busters direction into the clot at a smaller dose or we can physically pull the clot out,' said Dr. Robert Ecker.

Cohen was actually awake on the table.

Dr. Ecker also treats aneurysms, which is a swollen blood vessel, by clipping them or reconstructing them with these tiny coiled stent. He also disconnects congenital defects between the arteries and veins.

Dr.Ecker says there is only a short window of time -- a couple of hours -- to treat a stroke patient because each passing minute more brain cells are lost. Sixty percent of severe strokes are usually fatal or leave patients disabled. Treating patients quickly with Endovascular procedures is improving the outcome of patients.Patients no longer have to be transported to Boston to receive treatment. Cohen was out of the hospital in several days and back at work in two months.

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