Advance with MUSC Health

MUSC Health Florence Medical Center Expands Treatments for Stroke Patients

Advance With MUSC Health
April 21, 2022
Illustration of a stent.

No longer do Pee Dee residents have to leave the area for comprehensive stroke treatment and care.

MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is the premiere comprehensive center in the region to provide a surgical procedure that removes clots from the brain of stroke patients. The therapy, along with the most advanced equipment, represents a multi-million-dollar investment by MUSC in area residents’ care.

The availability of treatment close to home can make the difference between life and death and in how well a patient recovers, says Dr. Jay Dolia, medical stroke director and neuro-endovascular surgery director for MUSC Health Florence, a Primary Stroke Center designated by the Joint Commission.

Until recently, patients diagnosed with a stroke and whose condition made them ineligible for the clot-busting drug tPA had to be flown to Charleston, Myrtle Beach, or Columbia for surgery.

“Rapid treatment is crucial,” Dolia says. “A person having a stroke loses 1.9 million brain cells every minute, and the brain damage is irreversible. “The sooner a patient gets treatment, the better their outcome. It can mean the difference in whether you can hold a cup, a telephone, or your grandkids.

Unlike tPA, which must be given to a patient within 4 1/2 hours, endovascular surgery can be performed up to 24 hours. It involves the insertion of a catheter through the wrist or groin to open medium and large arteries and remove the clot.

The therapy is one of several initiatives using state-of-the-art equipment. Artificial intelligence is used to read scans of patients’ brains before treatment, shaving valuable minutes off the time between a patient’s arrival and when treatment is started. “We can diagnose, confer with the patient’s family and treat well under the time set by national stroke care standards,” Dolia says

MUSC Health in Florence and Charleston are the first in South Carolina to implement an audiovisual system that allows a surgical team to consult in real time with their counterparts in Charleston.

For complex surgeries on the brain, the hospital also has a suite equipped with the latest robotic technology and cameras that provide the highest resolution available of the brain.

Dr. Dolia says some of the techniques being used at MUSC Health Florence were first reported at MUSC Health Charleston. “Now MUSC is bringing all that here. Along with our nurses, techs, and doctors in the ER, the ICU, interventional neurology and neuro-endovascular surgery, as well as our occupational and physical therapists, we’re able to provide 24/7 care to our patients. It’s a win for the Pee Dee, which ranks among the highest in the country for strokes.”

Dolia says his team of highly trained specialists is dedicated to every patient’s care and recovery, beginning with local emergency services. “From the moment a patient comes through our door, we work to get that patient the right treatment. Then we must figure out why the stroke occurred and make sure it never happens again.”