Enhancements in Stroke Care in Northwestern Ontario

Endovascular Therapy (EVT) treatment uses a small tube, a guide wire and stent to remove large stroke-causing clots from the brain.

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (our Hospital) is excited to announce expanded access to Endovascular Therapy (EVT) for ischemic stroke patients. Our Hospital is only one of 24 sites across Canada able to provide this treatment for patients with ischemic strokes.

A stroke can occur when a person has had a blockage, or blood clot, reducing blood flow to the brain. This type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke. Permanent damage to the brain can occur if the blood supply is cut off for more than a few hours.

Patients in Northwestern Ontario are now better able to access EVT at our Hospital who have expanded treatment availability. EVT is a treatment for patients with acute ischemic strokes that removes large stroke-causing clots from the brain and substantially improves outcomes.

“While we cannot offer EVT 24/7 yet as we have a sole provider, we can now offer the treatment more than twice as often as in the past,” said Dr. Ayman Hassan, Medical Lead of the Northwestern Ontario Stroke Network.

EVT treatment uses a small tube, a guide wire and stent to remove large stroke-causing clots from the brain. “This area of treatment is rapidly evolving and it’s very exciting to be able to have this available for patients in the Northwest as the treatment can substantially improve patient’s lives,” said Dr. Graeme Marchuk, a Neurosurgeon and EVT provider at our Hospital.

Dr. Hassan indicates there are major benefits for patients who are eligible for this treatment. “There have been five major trials that demonstrated efficacy with major functional benefits for patients. Research has revealed that EVT increased positive outcomes by 25% and reduced the death rate by 50% from major ischemic strokes.”

In the past, the treatment opportunity for ischemic stroke patients was a ‘clot busting’ drug called tPA, which is still available to patients. “Patients can receive both tPA and Endovascular Therapy if they are within the treatment window,” said Dr. Hassan.

Stroke is a medical emergency and both EVT and clot busting treatment options are only available for a limited time after symptoms appear. If you are experiencing signs of stoke including a sudden onset of facial droop, slurred speech or an arm that you cannot raise, call 911 immediately.

The Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network, hosted at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is working at a system level with partners regarding these changes and is available to work alongside organizations to support the implementation of these changes. Please contact Trina Diner, Manager of the Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network for further information via email at dinert@tbh.net or by telephone at (807) 684-6702.