Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago are the first to use the wingspan, a stent designed specifically for the brain. Before now, surgeons had to use stents made for the heart.
The stent is used in patients who have blocked brain vessels. Eighty percent of strokes are caused by those blockages. Here's how it works: a balloon is threaded through the brain's vessels and cracks the plaque build up at the problem site. Then comes the stent, with a wire mesh that expands to keep the artery open.
To be a candidate for the new stent, you have to have a blood vessel that is between 50 percent and 99 percent blacked. Currently there are no safety concerns with the new stent.
The wingspan is FDA approved but is only available at select medical centers around the country. For a list of those centers, log onto ivanhoe.com-stroke.