South Carolina Stroke Specialists on Treatment of Acute Stroke

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

Host:  Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry

Dr. Linda Austin:  I’m Dr. Linda Austin.  I’m talking with Dr. Quill Turk who is Assistant Professor of Radiology and an interventional neuroradiologist here at MUSC.  Dr. Turk, let’s talk about the treatment of acute stroke.  First, what are the presenting symptoms of a stroke?

Dr. Quill Turk:  The most common presenting symptom is usually somebody has the inability to use an arm or a leg, or they talk with garbled speech, or they lose sight, like a curtain has come down over the eyes, so they’ve lost vision in an eye.  So, it’s something very abrupt and very different.  Unfortunately, many people say, oh, well, I’ll just sleep this off, and they try to go take a nap rather than calling an ambulance and getting to the hospital as quickly as they can.

Dr. Linda Austin:  And why is that so essential?

Dr. Quill Turk:  The main reason is that when you have a stroke, these symptoms are usually the result of a region of the brain not getting enough oxygen or enough blood to supply oxygen to that part of the brain and, therefore, that part of the brain doesn’t function.  If we’re not able to restore blood and oxygen to that part of the brain in time, that part of the brain dies and, therefore, people lose function.

Dr. Linda Austin:  What can happen, though, if a patient does get to the emergency room quickly?

Dr. Quill Turk:  If they can get to the emergency room within three hours, they can be given a drug called tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator, which can help break up that blood clot.  However, very few people actually present within the three-hour time frame.  

Dr. Linda Austin:  If a person is having those symptoms of a stroke and they have a choice of facilities as to where to go, why would you, someone working here at MUSC, say, hey, come to us, we have something special to offer?

Dr. Quill Turk:  I think if someone is within the regional area and they can get to MUSC quickly, I would certainly choose MUSC as the first place to go because we’re able to offer any and all therapies to these patients.  However, if they’re not close to MUSC, we certainly have helicopters so we can get patients here very quickly.  And I say that because when patients present within the first three hours, we can treat them, oftentimes, with drugs, intravenously, to help break up that blood clot.  But, oftentimes, even the drug that we’ve given doesn’t break it up.  Here, at MUSC, we’re one of the only places in t

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