Oxygen-rich blood generally flows from the heart to the brain, but a new technology aimed at preventing strokes temporarily reverses that path.
Surgeons at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa are the first in this region, and among a growing number nationwide, to use the system to channel blood from the brain through a special external filter and then injecting it back into the body via a vein in the leg.
The point of this unusual rerouting is to keep bits of plaque in a clogged carotid artery — plaque can be knocked loose during insertion of a stent — from traveling to the brain, where they can cause strokes.
“While the flow is reversed, any plaque that tries to break loose gets filtered out,” said Dr. Scott Musicant, a vascular surgeon at Sharp Grossmont.
Made by Silk Road Medical in Sunnyvale, the system is a new take on the well-established idea of using stents to open narrowed carotid arteries. Studies of this technology, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is covered by Medicare, found that only 1.4 percent of patients suffered strokes when undergoing the blood-flow-reversal technique. In comparison, strokes occurred in about 4 percent of patients who underwent regular stenting procedures.
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