Inova Goes the Extra Mile in Stroke Care and Treatment

Inova Alexandria Hospital’s attack on stroke

Inova Alexandria Hospital has made major strides in stroke treatment.As the leading cause of disability and fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, stroke remains a serious health issue. Inova Alexandria Hospital (IAH) recently furthered its commitment to help stroke patients. The hospital, which had been certified as a Primary Stroke Center for over a decade, recently received certification from the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as a Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center (TSC). It is only the fourth hospital in the country to receive this higher-level stroke certification.

“The distinction ensures that every patient directed to our hospital can get the highest level of care when it comes to the acute phase of an ischemic stroke,” says Jalil Bentaleb, BSN, RN-BC, SCRN, Director of Neurosciences.

Specifically, TSC certification ensures that IAH meets rigorous standards for performing endovascular thrombectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that involves threading a catheter through an artery from the groin into the brain to remove a blood clot during an ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke.

“In the past, if someone came in with a stroke and they were beyond the 4.5-hour window since they were last known well, they would be ineligible for the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), and there was nothing we could do for them,” Bentaleb says.

Endovascular thrombectomy extends the window for ischemic stroke treatment to up to 24 hours. “Using advanced CT imaging techniques, we can quickly identify patients who have blockage of a major artery causing a stroke, and our team moves very quickly to open the artery,” says Venu Vadlamudi, MD, Neurointerventional Radiologist and Medical Director of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease Program at IAH. “Time is brain. The faster patients arrive to the hospital and receive tPA and/or endovascular thrombectomy, the better chance they have for recovery.”

In 2018, the IAH Stroke Program has seen a significant increase in the number of endovascular thrombectomy cases and this has been further bolstered by the recent TSC certification, drawing stroke patients from all across the Washington metropolitan area. As part of outreach efforts, stroke team members have done extensive training with first responders, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel and 911 dispatchers, to demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of IAH stroke protocols.

“We have even gotten patients from as far away as Prince George’s County, because the EMS teams know patients get outstanding care here,” says Alison Pinch, BSN, RN-BC, SCRN, Stroke Program Coordinator.

“We are committed and passionate about excellent stroke care,” says Dr. Vadlamudi. “The ongoing efforts of the entire stroke program, from outreach to education to treatments, have been validated by achieving TSC certification so we can promise that each patient is given the best opportunity for recovery.”

Understanding Thrombectomy


Ischemic stroke: The most common type of stroke, it is characterized by a blood clot that blocks blood flow through an artery, cutting off oxygen and nutrients to brain cells.

Large-Vessel Occlusion:

A blockage in one of the major arteries of the brain, such as the middle cerebral artery.

Endovascular Thrombectomy:

A minimally invasive procedure to help patients with ischemic stroke caused by large-vessel occlusion. It involves threading a catheter from an artery in the groin into the brain and using a special device such as a stent retriever to remove the blood clot. It extends the opportunity for treatment up to 24 hours, far beyond the 4.5-hour window for the clot-busting drug tPA.

Stroke Symptoms:

It’s important to recognize the symptoms and act quickly. If you suspect a stroke, call 911 immediately! EMS can begin vital treatment in the ambulance.

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


Stroke Experts

Learn more about Inova’s stroke program.


  1. Richard on December 19, 2018 at 11:02 am

    It is unclear which Inova hospitals will provide the necessary timely emergency treatment to achieve best results. Running from far out Fairfax county to Alexandria may not yield best outcome during rush hours. Trained and equipped trauma centers should be identified in the article.

    • Cheryl Heidel on December 20, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Richard, you make an excellent point. We are starting to include information about all related Inova services throughout Northern Virginia in our articles, even articles that are about a specific local hospital. Regarding stroke: If you ever suspect a stroke is occurring, call 911 immediately. Thank you for your feedback.

Leave a Comment