LOS ANGELES – Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. A stroke caused by a brain hemorrhage is the most devastating. In fact, 75 percent of patients with this type of stroke die. Now, there's a new way to treat the problem and it's saving lives.
Jon Galvan is lucky to be alive and moving so well. Five years ago, he suffered a stroke while he was at work.
"I felt a pop in my head," he said.
Galvan had a hemorrhage inside his brain. The traditional way to remove it was a craniotomy—where doctors made a large incision in the scalp, bone, and brain.
"Open craniotomy may do so much harm, that it negates the benefit of getting the blood clot out," explained Neil Martin, MD, Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery at UCLA.
Martin is performing a much less invasive procedure.
First, he makes a tiny incision through the eyebrow. An endoscope with a light and camera on the tip helps him navigate with GPS-like precision to the clot. CT scans guide him to the hemorrhage, which he suctions out.
"This operation offers the ability to remove the blood clot without imposing additional insult or damage to the brain," Martin said.
Galvan had the minimally-invasive approach. He's still working on his mobility, but he has come a long way.
"I just look at it as another series of, not problems, but obstacles that I have to overcome," Galvan said.
Martin and his colleagues have been working on this procedure for more than 10 years. The phase two clinical trial was performed at seven major medical centers around the U.S. and included 24 patients.