Surgical Procedures for Stroke
Surgery can be done to restore and/or improve blood flow to the brain. When a stroke is severe, surgery may be done without delay. Keep in mind that many procedures may not cure the cause of your stroke or repair damage. It will help restore blood flow and prevent further damage. A healthy lifestyle that includes achieving a healthy weight, eating a heart healthy diet, not smoking, and taking recommended medications is still important.
Surgery Options to Prevent Further Damage During a StrokeDecompressive CraniotomyOccasionally, a large stroke can lead to significant brain swelling. When this happens and medications do not help relieve the swelling, a surgical intervention may be needed to prevent the pressure buildup within the skull from causing further damage to the brain. In this procedure, a flap of bone overlaying the swelling may be temporarily opened in order to relieve the pressure.If the stroke is of the hemorrhagic type, the blood clot may also be removed to prevent further brain injury.Catheter EmbolectomyThis is a procedure used to treat acute strokes. A tiny, flexible tube called a catheter is threaded through the blood vessels until it reaches the area in the brain where the clot is lodged. Efforts are made to remove the clot through the catheter, or clot-busting agents are given through the catheter to the location of the actual clot.Mechanical devices may be used to remove a clot. Other devices have either a corkscrew tip or a special ring used to remove the clots. They are placed in a catheter and threaded through blood vessels to the area of the blockage. When the device is in the proper location, it is used to remove the clot blocking the blood vessel. The advantage of these devices is that they can remove the clot in minutes, opening blood flow and decreasing the level of damage to affected tissue.
Surgery to Prevent Another StrokeAtherosclerosis (fatty deposits) in the arteries in the brain or the arteries that lead to the brain may increase the risk of another stroke. These fatty deposits may result in:
- Narrowing of an artery that will eventually shut off the blood supply to the brain
- Ulceration of a hardened fatty deposit (plaque) that makes it likely to break off and obstruct the artery further down stream
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Treating Heart ConditionsIn many cases, stroke may be the result of cardiovascular disease that affects the heart. You may need surgery to correct these causes to reduce your risk of another stroke. Heart surgery may include:
- Heart valve replacement —Replacing leaky or faulty heart valves improves the heart's ability to pump blood.
- Cardiac thrombosis surgery —A blood clot can form on the valves or in the chambers of the heart. If the blood clot is not reduced with medication, surgery may be to remove the clot.
- Repair of defects present from birth —An abnormality in the heart's structure may cause blockage or abnormal patterns of blood flow inside the heart. Repairing defects helps the heart function better and improves blood flow throughout the body.
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- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014