Patient beats devastating effects of stroke, thanks to quick medical team and new device

by Hennepin Healthcare

Recently while taking a walk to relieve back pain, a 49-year-old male had a stroke and collapsed in the skyway downtown near his workplace. Hennepin EMS was immediately at the scene, and a stroke code was called in HCMC’s Emergency Department.

Although HCMC’s “door-to-needle” treatment times are some of the fastest in the country, thanks to how close this patient was to HCMC when he collapsed, he arrived in record time to the waiting stroke team, led by multi-certified stroke specialist Dr. Gustavo Rodriguez.

“This case is remarkable on several levels,” explains Dr. Rodriguez, who is also the Medical Director for the Hennepin Stroke Center. “In addition to the timely delivery of clot-busting medications while in the CT scanner and the Interventional Radiology Department, a Solitaire™ revascularization device  was used to reopen his occluded vessel — the first time this device has been used in Minnesota outside of a study.”

Just approved by the FDA in recent weeks, the Solitaire™  device was not even in stock yet at HCMC.

“The sales representative happened to be here meeting with me at the time of the stroke code. Some rapid approvals were put in place, and the decision was made to use the device,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

Before treatment the patient had complete paralysis and loss of all sensation on the left side of his body, including partial vision loss and slurred speech.  Thanks to the quick response of the person who called 911 and the paramedics, the stroke team was able to remove the clot in time to restore blood flow to his brain.

The patient had a remarkable recovery and is expected to be released home from the hospital and back to work within a few weeks. The percentage of people who are able to return home after stroke treatment is higher at HCMC than at other regional or national hospital, and for this patient, time was definitely on his side.

“I’m so thankful for the person who called 911 and got the ball rolling,” he says. “I never thought I’d need to be treated for a stroke. I’m glad for the incredible team at HCMC.”

Hennepin Stroke Center is a nationally certified Stroke Center with some of the fastest stroke delivery treatment times in the country — averaging 50.7 minutes from “door-to needle” —  far besting the national average of 60 minutes. HCMC’s neurology/neurosurgery service is available 24/7 to provide rapid consultation, referral and treatment for strokes and other neurological conditions.  For more information about Hennepin Stroke Center, go to