Complete stroke care offered at Avera

Aug. 29, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.

Anyone who has ever called 911 knows it takes only a second for everything to change. When you or someone you love is having a stroke, every second counts. Not only do the moments matter between the ambulance arriving on the scene and at the hospital, but also until proper treatment is administered.

Avera has long offered lifesaving stroke care. Now, with the addition of a fellowship-trained neuroendovascular surgery specialist as well as a dedicated neurocritical care unit, Avera can provide the full spectrum of comprehensive stroke care. This move has added a specialized and complete dimension to the Avera Brain and Spine Institute.

Dr. Alex J. Linn has joined Avera to help offer this more complete dimension of care. He finds something very special in helping people in their most desperate times of need.

“Without proper oxygenated blood supply, parts of the brain can die fairly quickly, within a matter of minutes,” Linn said.

“The field of neuroendovascular surgery answers a much-needed calling to address some of the most critical medical emergencies in all of medicine, which previously were untreatable.”

Neuroendovascular surgery is among the newer subspecialties within the United States, as well as within the world. Intricate and delicate work, it requires further years of dedicated study beyond the standard training paradigms in radiology, neurosurgery and neurology.

Linn uses highly advanced operational tools and imaging technology, many of which have become available only within the past few years. This state-of-the-art equipment allows for a minimally invasive approach to neurovascular problems, which is sometimes an alternative to traditional open brain surgery done by a surgeon. Both the procedure and recovery tend to occur much faster, allowing people to get back to their lives much sooner.

Small incisions of about one-quarter of an inch or less are made in the wrist or the groin region to access a blood vessel, which then acts as an interstate of sorts within the body to navigate equipment to distant sites within the brain. Using a system of increasingly smaller devices, the end results are microcatheters and microwires that are guided to far-reaching locations to address the underlying problem.

During the procedure, Linn navigates this equipment while monitoring its location and progress externally via a specialized angiosuite system, including advanced high-definition microimaging. Once at the distant site, various tiny tools and devices are used to either open an occluded critical vessel or repair an abnormality such as an aneurysm.

With the addition to Linn’s expertise in neuroendovascular surgery, Avera Brain and Spine Institute has the capability to care for even more complex neuro-related health conditions. Some of the complicated conditions of the head, neck and spine that can be addressed through such minimally invasive methods include:

  • Acute ischemic stroke because of large vessel occlusions.
  • Some forms of acute hemorrhagic stroke, such as those related to aneurysm rupture.
  • Brain aneurysms, before or after rupture.
  • Vascular malformations, before or after rupture.
  • Blood vessel occlusions/blockages, such as carotid or vertebral artery stenosis.
  • Some types of tumors/cancers, such as large meningiomas, before surgery.
  • Some types of uncontrollable tumor bleeding, such as neck or oral cancers.
  • Uncontrollable nose bleeding, known as epistaxis.
  • Traumatic injury bleeding caused by vessel injuries.
  • Pre-epilepsy surgery evaluations, known as Wada testing.

“The Avera Brain and Spine Institute remains dedicated to the region’s needs of comprehensive neurologic health care,” said Mary Jones, director of the institute.

“Along with the addition of Dr. Linn, Avera also recruited three fellowship-trained neurointensivists, who provide specialized high-level care in the new neurocritical care unit.”

Linn said the best part of his work is helping people in their most desperate time of need.

“Being able to make a difference in someone’s life during those critical moments is rewarding beyond what words can describe,” he said.

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Complete stroke care offered at Avera

Avera has long offered lifesaving stroke care. But a new neuroendovascular surgery specialist now is delivering even more cutting-edge care.

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