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Health Beat: Stopping stroke — blocking brain bleeds

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 05 2013 01:09:38 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 05 2013 05:03:43 PM CST

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

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," said Galvan, who had a hemorrhage inside his brain.

The traditional way to remove it was a craniotomy, in which 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," said Dr. Neil Martin, chairman, department of neurosurgery, UCLA, who is performing a much less invasive procedure.

First, Martin 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 the procedure for more than 10 years. The phase two clinical trial was performed at seven major medical centers across the U.S. and included 24 patients.

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DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Neil Martin about blocking brain bleeds