Advancing Technologies in Stroke Care

A second neurovascular interventional suite meets growing demands for stroke care at the University of Alberta Hospital.

For some stroke patients, clot-busting medication (tPA) is not enough. That's why clot retrieval procedures have become a critical component of acute stroke treatment. Having two advanced neurovascular interventional suites enables doctors to provide more of this life-saving stroke care.

Thanks to investments made by the Brain Centre Campaign, the University of Alberta Hospital is home to the only two neurovascular interventional suites in Northern Alberta. Each suite is outfitted with biplane angiography, an advanced, minimally invasive technology used to diagnose and treat stroke and other neurological conditions including:

  • Brain aneurysms,
  • Brain and neck tumours,
  • Blockages of the artery that supply the head and neck with oxygenated blood, and
  • Hemorrhages within the skull.

The neurovascular interventional suites - combined with innovative technology, University of Alberta Hospital expertise, and new national guidelines - mean that more Albertans have better chance to survive stroke without serious disability.

endovascular thrombectomy

Advanced technology guides clot-removal procedure

The most important technology in neurovascular interventional suites is the biplane angiography system. This system produces highly detailed 3D views of blood vessels leading to, and deep within, the brain. With these images, interventional neuroradiologists can safely navigate the vessels of the brain with a microcatheter to remove blood clots that will not respond to clot-busting medication. Blood flow is restored within minutes. The most severe strokes, the ones with a success rate of 5-15% with clot-busting drugs, occur in the largest arteries. 

An inside look at clot retrieval technology

About 15% of strokes are caused by a blood clot in the brain that can be cleared through endovascular thrombectomy. Around 125 endovascular thrombectomies were performed in 2017 at University of Alberta Hospital - a number that's expected to increase to more than 175 in 2018 with new national guidelines. Patients living in remote areas who require more travel time to receive treatment in Edmonton will be one of the groups to benefit most. 

Connecting with Stroke Ambulance

The Stroke Ambulance brings patients to the University of Alberta Hospital. CT images taken inside the ambulance will provide neurologists with the information they need to determine the type of stroke before the patient even arrives at the hospital. If required, the patient will be sent for a CT angiogram, a specialized CT scan to determine whether there’s a blood clot in one of the larger artieries in the brain causing the stroke.


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