Healthwatch 16: Treating Stroke Patients More Efficiently, Cutting Recovery Time

GEISINGER MEDICAL CENTER -- Standing in an operating room at Geisinger Medical Center next to a doctor, is a strange experience for 71-year-old Frank Bedosky from Berwick.

He told Newswatch 16 what happened to him last September while he was doing yard work.

"All of a sudden, just like I'm talking now, my words weren't coming out. Everything was garbled. It scared me," said Bedosky.

A neighbor rushed to his aid.

"He saw me laying on the ground and said, 'Frank, you're having a stroke.' Me? No. But I couldn't, still couldn't talk," said Bedosky.

Just a few hours later, Frank was being treated at the hospital near Danville by the vascular neurosurgeon on call, Dr. Christopher Griessenauer.

"When Frank came to the hospital he had a stroke. A major blood vessel on the right side of his brain was blocked by a clot that had most likely come from the heart," said Dr. Griessenauer.

Scans illustrate the extent of the blockage.

An after shot shows Franks's blood flowing normally. Luckily, his case was able to be treated quickly, through a catheter but next door is a new hybrid operating room, a more sophisticated setup, reserved for complex cases. The operating room has just been used for the first time.

"In a hybrid operating room, you can open up somebody's head and do brain surgery, and at the same time you can go through their groin for endovascular neurosurgery," said Dr. Griessenauer.

That eliminates the need to take a patient back and forth between rooms, which has risks.

"It adds time and in critical situations that could be important in that time could be lost by transferring a patient from one room to another," said Dr. Griessenauer.

As for Frank, Dr. Griessenauer says he'll always be at risk for another stroke and will but monitored but he's considered recovered from a case that could easily have been life-threatening.

"I'm back to being as normal as I can be. I can do everything I did before. I have no restrictions," said Bedosky.

Dr. Griessenauer says newer stroke guidelines suggest that stroke patients recover best when treated within 24 hours but every patient is different.

As a general rule, it's best to get a stroke patient medical help as soon as possible.