93-year-old woman recovers from stroke after brain catheterization

Inessa Lazaroff is oldest in Israel to undergo procedure immediately after suffering from stroke.

Man lying in a hospital bed at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem [illustrative]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Man lying in a hospital bed at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem [illustrative].
A 93-year-old woman from Haifa has become the oldest person in Israel to undergo brain catheterization immediately after suffering a stroke and her normal functioning has been restored.
Inessa Lazaroff, who before her stroke had an independent existence, made history when she was treated successfully at Rambam Medical Center.
Two weeks ago, she was in the bathroom when her son-in-law heard a loud noise and he found her lying on the floor and suffering from paralysis on her right side. She also was unable to speak or understand what her son-in-law was saying.
These are among the clear signs of stroke.
Fortunately for Lazaroff, her family called for an ambulance that rushed her to Rambam, where she was tested and her condition quickly diagnosed by neurology Prof. Gregory Talman. Dr. Ya’acov Amsalem, head of the invasive neuro-radiology department found, using computerized tomography, that an artery that supplied oxygen to the left side of her brain was completely blocked.
Since she was hospitalized and diagnosed so quickly, doctors believed they could save her brain function.
Although brain catheterizations are very complicated in those of advanced age, her high level of daily functioning persuaded the neuro- radiologists to try the procedure and the family agreed.
Eighty five percent of strokes are ischemic, with blood vessels clogged, while the rest are due to hemorrhaging; fortunately for Lazaroff, hers was of the first kind.
Treatment for ischemic strokes include injecting tPA, which usually can be carried out within four-and-a-half hours of the beginning of a stroke. Catheterization involves pulling the clot out of the artery, a procedure that can be performed during the first six hours, but it is a very delicate and complicated procedure. Brain catheterization is performed in only six Israeli medical centers, among them Rambam.
Amsalem inserted a catheter into the blood vessel in Lazaroff’s brain, setting a supportive stent inside and then “fishing” for the clot.
Because of her age, such blood vessels are much more twisted and fragile than in younger people, so it was harder to reach the clot, raising the risk of puncturing the arteries. By the next day, Lazaroff regained her full functioning.
“We never dreamed we would see her doing so well after treatment,” said Talman. “She is clear headed, laughing and talking to he family – as if nothing untoward happened.”
Rambam’s stroke team is interdisciplinary and well trained like an orchestra, said Talman.
“We succeed in making good decisions and in treating patients faster than the world standard.
In just the past month, we did six brain catheterizations and melted three clots with tPA – twice as many as the average in Israel.
In the case of strokes, with every minute that passes two million brain cells are destroyed, and it’s our challenge to save as many as possible.”