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New Clot-Suction Technique Has Stroke Patients On The Mend

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Cutting edge technology being used at a Twin Cities hospital could change the treatment for stroke patients.

Abbott Northwestern is a comprehensive stroke center and specializes in a procedure called mechanical thrombectomy.

Doctors use a machine with a catheter and suction to remove the stroke-causing blood clot, essentially like a miniature vacuum.. The recovery time can be much quicker than the traditional procedure of using medication to dissolve a clot.

Few understand the impact of a fast recovery better than Kyle Smith. Two months ago, Smith was being rushed into Abbott Northwestern. A blood clot in his carotid artery caused a massive stroke, paralyzing the right side of his body and his ability to speak.

"I'll tell you, it's a life changing experience, for sure," Smith said. "It really gave me a glimpse as to what life looks like after you've had a serious stroke."

Dr. Yasha Kadkhodayan performed the mechanical thrombectomy.

"The tools we used today and that I had available to me for Kyle, were not available even a year to 18 months ago," Kadkhodayan said.

While most stroke recovery can take weeks, even months, Smith started regaining movement and speech almost immediately.

"This is one of those special cases where you see someone just improve right before your eyes," Kadkhodayan said.

Smith was even more elated.

"One day you're having a major stroke, and three days later, you're walking out of the hospital and everything's working," Smith said.

For Smith, words weren't enough to express his gratitude for a second chance. When he met with his doctor on Monday, he gave Kadkhodayan one of his military coins awarded to him for exceeding expectations in service.

"I can't think of a better person to pass it along to than you," Smith said to Kadkhodayan as he gave him the coin.

In stroke patients, doctors say timing is everything. For Smith, 13 minutes allowed him to get his life back.

"There are a lot of future things we want to do, and I get to do that," Smith said.

He hopes that more people become aware of stroke symptoms. He actually started showing minor symptoms at his work but no one recognized the signs.

Just think of the acronym FAST:

F = Facial drooping.
A = Arms. Difficulty lifting your limbs.
S = Slurred speech.
T = Time. If someone shows any of the signs call 911 immediately.

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