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At Duke Raleigh, procedure captures source of a stroke

Posted October 31

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— Strokes in North Carolina happen far too often.

A new procedure at Duke Raleigh Hospital can help lessen the devastating effects of a stroke. The work being done is both fascinating and life-changing, as it was for Antonio Webster.

Webster was at work May 3 when he noticed symptoms.

"What I wanted to do I could not do," he said. "I knew the answers, but I couldn't say what it was."

Webster, 44 and in perfect health, described the experience as very, very frightening. He had none of the medical conditions linked to stroke. He didn't have high blood pressure, did not smoke, wasn't overweight and did not have diabetes.

Coworkers called 911, and EMS took Webster to WakeMed, where he learned of a special procedure offered only at Duke Raleigh.

Dr. Ali Zomorodi is the only one in Wake County to perform "medical thrombectomy."

"We can navigate right to the clot," Zomorodi said.

The neurosurgeon inserts a tiny wire into and through the large blood clots that cause a stroke, then releases an even tinier wire trap.

"The clot is captured then is pulled out," he said.

That's exactly what happened for Webster.

"We got the blood clot out of the artery. I looked at the clock and realized we were well in the window for a good outcome for him," Zomorodi said.

Webster returned to work after about four months. His speech continues to improve with therapy, and he considers himself "blessed" to have had access to Zomorodi's procedure.

While Webster was otherwise healthy, Zomorodi said, "Most strokes are preventable."

He is passionate about patients knowing the warning signs – slurred speech, blurred vision, problems controlling arms or legs – and getting immediate treatment.

Time is of the essence in determining survival and recovery from a stroke, Zomorodi said.

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