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KDMC Introduces Innovative New Treatment - Merci Retrieval

MerciKing’s Daughters Medical Center now is offering a new minimally invasive procedure that can significantly extend the treatment timeframe for people suffering from the most common type of stroke.

Known as the Merci Retriever®, this catheter-type system uses a tiny corkscrew-shaped device that is deployed inside an artery to trap and remove blood clots causing a stroke and instantly restore blood flow to the brain.

“Traditional treatments had to be implemented within three hours of onset of stroke symptoms, while the Merci system can be used up to eight hours after initial symptoms,” said interventional radiologist Wes Lewis, M.D. “This is important because it often takes people several hours to realize they are suffering a stroke and to seek medical treatment.” he said. “The Merci system extends the treatment time beyond three hours for ischemic stroke, which provides an opportunity for more patients to be treated and to dramatically decrease the death and complications associated with stroke,” Lewis said. Lewis added that because the procedure actually removes clots instead of just dissolving them, the treatment is safe for post-operative patients. He explained that Merci is an acronym for Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia.

Lewis spearheaded the push to utilize the Merci system at King’s Daughters. He specializes in performing minimally invasive procedures utilizing the arteries and veins throughout the body to access the site of disease. Lewis’ partner, interventional radiologist Pho Nguyen, M.D., also is trained to use the new Merci device.

King’s Daughters is the first hospital in eastern Kentucky and southeastern Ohio to have the Merci Retriever system.

The Merci system is the only device with FDA clearance for removing blood clots from the brains of people suffering from the most common type of stroke, known as ischemic stroke, where a blood clot limits or completely deprives the brain of essential blood and oxygen. The device is used for patients who are ineligible for the intravenous clot-busting medication t-PA or those who fail to respond to treatment. Prior to FDA market clearance of the Merci Retrieval system, options for ischemic stroke intervention were limited since IV t-PA must be used within the first three hours of the stroke symptom onset, and many people do not go to the emergency department until after that time period has passed. Studies show that across the U.S., fewer than five percent of patients are treated within the first three hours of the onset of symptoms.

Patients who survive an ischemic stroke often are left with disability and permanent impairment of movement, speech, sensation, memory or reasoning. The level of disability depends upon the blood vessel involved, the area of the brain affected, and the length of time that the brain is without oxygen. While approximately 75 percent of strokes occur in people over age 65, a stroke can happen at any age. Risk factors include increased age, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Acute ischemic stroke is a devastating condition with limited interventional options. There is a continuous need for patient awareness about the urgency of stroke, as well as a need for improved treatments. According to the American Heart Association, each year nearly 800,000 new or recurrent strokes occur in the U.S. Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S., with a cost of $60 billion.

Stroke Warning Signs


If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

About Concentric Medical, Inc.

The Merci Retriever® system is made by Concentric Medical, Inc., headquartered in Mountain View, Ca., a medical device company focused on the design, development and commercialization of products for restoring blood flow in patients who are experiencing ischemic stroke. The Merci system has treated more than 10,000 patients globally to date in more than 500 hospitals.

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