RG Acharya, 64, was brought to New Delhi's Indraprastha Apollo hospital in the middle of the night from Hisar, Haryana, following a stroke. His carotid artery, that supplies oxygenated blood to the brain, had 95% blockage near the neck. Such a condition is termed as carotid artery stenosis.
Had it not been for the unique procedure — in which the flow of blood to the brain is reversed to suck out the blood clot from the artery and a stent is placed to open the blockage — his doctor says it would have been nearly impossible to save him.
"He was already in a critical state with recurrent paralytic attacks. His diabetic condition made his case more complicated. When he came to us, he was in the grey period, which usually does not last for more than a couple of hours. He could have collapsed on his way to the hospital," said Dr NN Khanna, senior consultant, interventional cardiology at the hospital, who carried out the procedure.
There was a blood clot in his right brain artery. Small pieces of this clot were getting dislodged and travelling to the brain, causing loss of speech and paralysis. His emergency MRI scan spotted 90% blockage in the left artery as well.
"We decided to perform this procedure on both the arteries, because then the left one would have resulted in similar complications in the future," said Dr Khanna.
Like angioplasty, where a stent is put to unblock the artery, this was also a minimally invasive procedure that took about an hour. "It can get a bit risky, and we need to do everything from declotting the artery to washing in maximum five minutes as the flow of blood cannot be kept reversed for long," said Dr Khanna.
Acharya was in hospital for two days and made a quick recovery. He needs a follow-up once every six months. "I feel fine but during the tests, one of my heart arteries was found to have blockage. I will get an angioplasty done for that next month," said Acharya, a retired official of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.