Immanuel Medical Center has become the fourth hospital in the country to earn a new certification indicating that it meets rigorous standards for treating stroke patients using a procedure that targets clots blocking large vessels in the brain.

The procedure, called a mechanical endovascular thrombectomy, involves threading a catheter through an artery in the groin to the brain to snare the clot and draw it out.

Doctors have called it a game-changer when it comes to treating such blockages.

Dr. Vishal Jani, an interventional neurologist at Immanuel, which houses the CHI Health Neurological Institute, said strokes caused by clots represent up to 90 percent of strokes.

“This holds the center to the highest standard,” Jani said.

The designation as a thrombectomy-capable stroke center recognizes that the hospital has the infrastructure and protocols in place to perform the procedure.

To be eligible to apply for the certification, hospitals have to meet strict guidelines, including performing the procedure on a minimum of 15 patients in the past year or 30 in the past two years. They also must demonstrate the ability to perform the procedure 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The physicians who perform the procedure must meet the highest standard of training.

The Joint Commission, in collaboration with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, began offering the new certification Jan. 1.

Nebraska in 2017 established a statewide stroke treatment system that designated hospitals according to their ability to provide various elements of stroke treatment. The system also established protocols to help emergency responders evaluate patients and select the hospital that can provide the appropriate level of care.

The Nebraska Medical Center in November 2017 earned designation as a comprehensive stroke center. The nation’s highest designation for stroke care, a comprehensive center must be able to handle both clot-caused and hemorrhagic strokes at any time.

Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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