How a 20-minute Stroke Surgical Technique Could Save Thousands of Lives


An innovative 20-minute Irish stroke surgical technique could save the lives of thousands of later-stage stroke patients and prevent serious disability, says a leading surgeon.

The technique, performed under general anesthesia, works by lowering the patient’s body temperature, administering intravenous medications, and inserting a tube down the throat.

The tube, along with a stent, is inserted into the carotid artery – the main artery to the brain. The clot is removed and a hole in the artery is closed with a dissolvable disk.

Professor of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at NUI Galway, Sherif Sultan said: “A stroke patient normally needs treatment within 24 hours – the golden hours – but with this treatment we can save those who are past that time frame.”

Professor Sultan explained that the first patient to receive the treatment was an Irish-based boss of a famous multinational company.

The businessman had been in a public hospital where treatment had not worked.

“It took 96 hours for him to come to me,” said Prof. Sultan. “The other team had tried, but so much time had passed that the patient could not move his right hand or leg.

“But he was still talking and he said, ‘Just do anything to help me.’

The patient was referred to Professor Sultan as word of the treatment had spread. His body temperature was lowered and the procedure performed.

“The treatment saved his life,” said Prof. Sultan. “He woke up and moved his limbs as if nothing had happened. It changed everything.

“He sends me Christmas cards and thanks me for saving his life.

“After 24 hours it’s often time to throw in the towel and do nothing – but this treatment changes that and offers a higher chance of recovery.

“Within two weeks this man was driving his car and living his life normally. His daughter now wants to become a vascular surgeon. She sees what this operation has done for her father. We need more surgeons, we need more young people reading about cases like this to realize that we can really help change lives for the better.”

Prof Sultan and a team at NUI Galway developed the technique and around 100 patients worldwide have been treated with the method – Transcervical Percutaneous Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting Therapy (TCAR).

88 percent made a full recovery and were discharged home within three days. However, 12 percent of patients required rehabilitation.

Stroke surgery is usually performed by inserting a stent through the groin and guiding it to the brain to remove a clot.

TCAR offers a “quicker route to the brain” and offers the opportunity to “rescue those who may have exceeded the 24-hour period,” Prof Sultan said.

“We started publishing this work simply because we want to save patients’ lives to prevent them from developing serious disabilities if treatment lasts longer than 24 hours.

“We don’t want anyone to throw in the towel because nothing worked and the golden age is over.

“Stroke rehabilitation in Ireland costs around €100,000 million. In Great Britain it is almost 2.4 billion euros. This treatment is a paradigm shift in the treatment of stroke and the treatment costs around €300.”

The procedure, which is awaiting approval in Europe, the UK and the FDA, could potentially help thousands of stroke patients if it is rolled out.

Prof Sultan explained that any surgeon trained in vascular surgery could easily be trained to use the device.

The procedure reduces the risk of nerve damage to the brain and avoids a longer hospital stay.

The professor also explained that the procedure resulted in less pain, fewer side effects, and faster recovery.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation, one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. Most of them are over 65 years old. However, a stroke can occur at any age, and adolescents and children can also be affected.

“This procedure was created and developed in Ireland by an Irish-based team,” said Prof Sultan.

“I want it introduced to help patients lead normal lives, reduce disabilities, help families and reduce costs to the treasury.

“Plus it could potentially create a lot of Irish jobs.” How a 20-minute Stroke Surgical Technique Could Save Thousands of Lives

Fry Electronics Team

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