“I was at work, doing my job, and suddenly I couldn’t type what I wanted to type,” recalls Rachel Rasp, who was just 27 at the time. “I tried to get up and walk out of my office and I couldn’t navigate my way out … I managed to stumble over to my assistant. I tried to say, ‘Help, something’s wrong,’ and nothing came out.”
Her assistant immediately called 9-1-1, and shortly after, doctors at GW Hospital confirmed she had a stroke. Neurosurgeon and interventional neuroradiologist Dimitri Sigounas, MD, explains that a scan showed blockages in her neck and the left side of her brain related to a potentially life-threatening condition called a carotid artery dissection. As a designated Comprehensive Stroke Center – the highest level of certification attainable from The Joint Commission® and American Heart Association®/American Stroke Association® — GW Hospital is specially equipped to provide lifesaving care.
Rachel was taken to the interventional neuroradiology suite, where Dr. Sigounas performed a thrombectomy and stenting procedure, using X-ray guided imaging to thread a catheter through the blood vessels, retrieve the clots and keep the vessels open. Providing critical support behind the scenes were radiation technologists, nurses, the anesthesiologist and other staff. “It takes a lot of people who are all highly trained and prepared to operate at a very high level,” says physician assistant Michael Johnson, PA-C.
Just hours after waking up, Rachel was able to talk and function normally, and she has recovered fully. “It is not typical, I think, what happened to me and how I recovered, and I have to attribute that largely to GW Hospital,” she says. “I was very fortunate that they took me straight to GW.”
GW Hospital is the first hospital in Washington, D.C., to offer the RAPID® CT Perfusion software, which can make potentially lifesaving stroke care accessible to even more patients. Previously, there was a six-hour period after a stroke occurred to provide surgical intervention; but with the new software, doctors can determine if patients beyond that window would benefit from a procedure to remove a blockage in the brain. This can enable vital treatment for patients who previously may not have been candidates.
Use FAST to remember the warning signs of a possible stroke. Face drooping | Arm weakness | Speech difficulty | Time to call 9-1-1. If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.