Vascular Problems at Stroke Treatment Centers: A Team Approach

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Guest:  Dr. Aquilla “Quill” Turk – Radiology/Neuro Interventional 

Host:  Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry

Dr. Linda Austin:  This is Dr. Linda Austin.  I’m talking, today, with Dr. Quill Turk who is Assistant Professor of Radiology here at the Medical University of South Carolina.  Dr. Turk, you are part of a very interesting and, I think, very important process here, at MUSC, as we are developing a team approach to treating disorders of the blood vessels of the brain, things like stroke, as well as malformations of the vessels of the brain.  Tell us some, if you would, about this team approach.  Why is that so important?

Dr. Quill Turk:  Here at MUSC, we’re in the building stages, currently, of developing a team of doctors from all disciplines of medicine to really focus on the various vascular disorders of the cerebrovascular system.  As we all know, depending on where you go in the country, or in the world, there are doctors from neurosurgery, radiology, neurology who all, to some degree, operate on the blood vessels of the brain or manage them medically, or manage them through an open surgical approach.  

So, there are many different methods and styles, and ways.  We’ve decided, here at MUSC, to bring all of these various groups together under one umbrella and have them function together as a team, realizing that each area has its own area of strength, where they can really come together and work better as a unit, rather than trying to function independently, and competitively, against each other.  I’m a trained interventional neuroradiologist, and in this discipline, neuroradiology, you have people from neurosurgery.  We also have people from neurology who have gone on to do further training in critical care medicine and stroke neurology, as well as endovascular neurology.  So, together, we can all provide an endovascular method for treating cerebrovascular diseases from the perspective of neurology, neurosurgery and radiology.

Dr. Linda Austin:  You used the word endovascular.  What does that word mean?

Dr. Quill Turk:  Endovascular means, through the blood vessels.  So, rather than doing an open surgery where we make a window in the bone of the skull to access the blood vessels of the brain, we make a small incision in the skin, over the groin area, and put a small rubber tube, a catheter, into the blood vessel and navigate through the blood vessels up to the brain.  From there, we’re able to treat anything 

from acute stroke, which are acute blockages of the blood vessels in the brain, to chronic strokes, which are narrowings of the blood vessels in the brain, which cause recurrent symptoms, to malformations, arteriovenous malformations, which people are often born with and at some point present with symptoms, seizures or bleeding episodes, to aneurysms, elective or acute.  We can even block off tumors and stop the blood supply to tumors before they’re taken out, to minimize blood loss.  

So, there’s really a

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