For patients suffering a stroke, every minute counts.
Thanks to the help of donors, Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Interventional Radiology team has become the health care equivalent of a Formula One pit crew. In 2016 and 2018, donors helped send KHSC staff to a conference in Calgary, Alberta, to learn best practices for the Endovascular Thrombectomy (EVT) procedure.
Out of the 800 stroke patients that the KHSC receives each year, 50 to 60 qualify for EVT. During the procedure, the team accesses the brain’s blood vessels with a small tube and physically removes a clot, saving the remaining brain tissue. It is a safe, highly-effective treatment that has shown a significant decrease in patient disability, and a 50 per cent reduction in overall mortality compared to clot-dissolving drugs.
“EVT is one of the most time-critical procedures in all of health care,” says Dr. Alexandre Menard, Interventional Radiologist, KHSC. “In Ontario, every stroke EVT patient has their time metrics measured, from arrival at the hospital to getting their CT scan to the completion of the procedure. The EVT procedure should be completed within 90 minutes of arriving through the doors of the hospital. Our average time at KHSC is less than 60 minutes—best in the province. The conference helped our team get to where we are today, giving staff critical knowledge and skills needed to implement EVT.”
This high level of efficiency has taken countless hours of practice and mock runs to ensure that no time is wasted once a patient arrives. The results speak for themselves, as shown in a letter Dr. Menard received from the family of a stroke patient following a successful EVT, towards the end of 2020:
“We would like to thank you for the life-saving procedure you so efficiently performed,” reads the letter. “Your execution of the highly-skilled procedure removed the majority of the large clot that would otherwise have been fatal. You are definitely unsung heroes in our estimation and we truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
“We’re so grateful for the valuable donations that allowed our team to attend the conference,” says Karen Pearson, Director of Diagnostic Imaging, KHSC. “Without donors to support us, we wouldn’t be able to do many of the important things that we do, including EVT. We are so grateful for having such a generous local community.”