When Every Minute Mattered

December 10, 2019
Specialized Stroke Team at Manatee

Matthew Stemer, MD, Jane Caruso, and Christine Gonzalez, RN, CNRN.

Specialized stroke treatment and technology at Manatee Memorial Hospital provided the care that Jane Caruso needed.

An advanced mechanical thrombectomy procedure in the hospital’s new Biplane Interventional Radiology Suite — the first in the county — helped her make a complete recovery. Her husband’s quick response when he noticed the stroke warning signs put the lifesaving care into action.

Her stroke symptoms occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, Caruso says. “I had been bending down playing with the dog, and when I came up, the room started to spin. I tried to tell my husband, and everything came out garbled. He knew right away that I was having a stroke.”

Caruso’s husband immediately called 911. She remembers telling the EMTs when they arrived that she wanted to go to Manatee Memorial Hospital. She didn’t know at the time that Manatee Memorial had recently opened an interventional suite with the technology needed to handle just the emergency she was facing.

Her stroke was being caused by a blockage of one of the main arteries in her brain, which was confirmed by a CT scan. To treat her condition, she was deemed a candidate for a mechanical thrombectomy to remove the blockage that was restricting blood flow to her brain.

Commitment to Stroke Treatment

Manatee Memorial Hospital earlier this year received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for the 11th year and the Target: StrokeSM Elite Honor Roll Award for the third year. These awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

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With this procedure, a catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin and guided to the blocked artery. A special device then removes the clot. The advanced imaging equipment now available at Manatee Memorial Hospital provides the highly detailed views and access needed for doctors to provide this advanced care.

“Being able to perform this procedure here, rather than transferring patients to a different facility, saves precious time when every minute counts,” says Neurologist/Chief of Staff and Medical Director of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center Ralph Gonzalez, MD, who oversaw Caruso’s care. “This treatment increases the likelihood of a stroke victim regaining independence and mobility by a significant amount.”

Looking back, Caruso says she remembers everything about her procedure. “They keep you awake, they want to see how you respond. During the procedure, I had a nurse stroking my hand and she was so sweet … Just her touching me was a real reassurance. Everybody was so wonderful.”

“They all rallied around me, and once the procedure was over, I went up to ICU. They were wonderful up there, too. I stayed there for 24 hours and then I went to the stroke unit and they were just as good. At that point all my testing came up normal. I was up and walking and eating.”

Since returning home, she’s been in touch with her cardiologist to monitor her health and make sure everything is okay. A retired teacher and busy grandmother, she is doing well and is happy to be back spending time with her family and grandchildren. “I think about it and how it could have been,” she says. “I’m very fortunate.”

Recognizing the Symptoms Can Save Your Life

BE FAST by the American Stroke Association® offers an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke.

Does the person have a sudden loss of balance or coordination?

Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.