One way our neurosurgeons stay up to date on the latest developments is to attend “update” conferences. These meetings usually include a series of courses and lectures focused on a particular field of medicine, taught by expert faculty. The conferences are a fantastic way for physicians to find out about and share new research and treatments.
One such gathering is the annual Brain Attack and Cerebrovascular Disease Update, held every year at the New York Academy of Medicine. Columbia’s Dr. Philip Meyers and Dr. E. Sander Connolly attended the Brain Attack Update this year to get the latest information from their colleagues, but also to be part of the expert faculty teaching physicians about current issues in stroke treatment.
Dr. Meyers spent his time at the Update talking about his specialty, endovascular stroke treatment. When someone has a stroke, every minute counts—the best outcomes depend on fast treatment. Often the first line of treatment for a stroke is a drug called tPA, which dissolves blood clots and improves blood flow.
After the patient has been given tPA Dr. Meyers can use an endovascular procedure on some stroke patients. He threads a small, flexible tube through the blood vessels to the clot that is blocking blood flow in the brain. He can then use a small instrument on the end of the tube to remove the blood clot, restoring blood flow.
In order to be effective, tPA must be given within about three hours of the onset of the stroke, and endovascular treatment must happen very soon afterward. But sometimes patients don’t get to the hospital within the time frame for effective treatment. At the Brain Attack Update, Dr. Meyers participated in a lively debate about how best to treat stroke patients who arrive more than six hours after optimal stroke treatment time.
Meanwhile, Dr. Connolly updated his colleagues on the latest in managing bleeding inside the brain through minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery means surgery with small incisions, using methods designed to limit trauma, pain and infection.
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