Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. During a stroke, every second counts. Getting the right care at the right time is essential because lost time can result in more brain damage. At Indiana University Health, a dedicated stroke team is available 24 hours a day. Our doctors use the latest technology to quickly evaluate patients and diagnose stroke. And our specialized expertise and advanced treatment options give you the best chance for recovery from stroke. From prevention to treatment and recovery, IU Health provides the most experienced doctors and the latest diagnostic tools, techniques and treatments for exceptional stroke care.

Diagnosing any kind of stroke requires a rapid response and sophisticated imaging equipment. At IU Health, the Stroke 1 team is ready even before a patient enters the emergency department. If they suspect a stroke, the paramedics alert the emergency department en route so doctors and nurses can begin treatment as soon as the patient arrives.

To accurately diagnose a stroke, specialists at IU Health use the most sophisticated diagnostic and imaging tools, including:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Vascular CT and magnetic resonance (MR) and catheter angiograms (noninvasive tests for examining the blood vessels)
  • CT and MR perfusion studies (to examine cerebral blood flow)
  • Carotid ultrasound (for examination of the carotid arteries)
  • Nuclear medicine imaging
  • Transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiogram (to determine if there is an abnormality with the heart that could lead to stroke)

Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification

Dedication to Indiana patients has led IU Health to become Indiana’s first and only certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, the highest designation for stroke care given by The Joint Commission. Fewer than 100 hospitals in the country have earned this distinction, representing the top 2 percent of hospitals nationwide in stroke care.

At the Comprehensive Stroke Center at IU Health, our team is highly trained and experienced in stroke care. With 24/7 on-site access to specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology and intensive care, advanced treatment is provided quickly for any type of stroke episode, including hemorrhagic strokes caused by aneurysms or arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

IU Health has created Indiana’s largest network of stroke treatment facilities. This system of 18 hospitals is ready to assess, treat and manage the effects of stroke across the state. Our system includes the Comprehensive Stroke Center, three Primary Stroke Centers and 12 IU Health Stroke Telemedicine hospitals. 

Stroke Treatments

Our multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, emergency medicine doctors and neuroradiologists provides the latest treatment options to people experiencing ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. The IU Health provides sophisticated treatments for each type of stroke.

Ischemic Stroke Treatment

Treatment for ischemic stroke focuses on removing or dissolving the clot blocking blood flow to the brain. At the IU Health, treatments for ischemic stroke include:

  • Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator. For ischemic stroke, physicians may give tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). This medicine is administered via intravenous therapy (IV) and can dissolve the clot causing the stroke. Studies show people who receive tPA within the first three hours of a stroke have better and more complete recoveries. The Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center has an above-average tPA treatment rate, meaning eligible stroke patients are more likely to receive this important, time-critical treatment.
  • Intra-arterial treatment. To help more stroke patients, the IU Health team can also inject tPA directly into a clot with catheters. This can dissolve a clot faster than giving the drug through an IV. This new treatment may expand the window for tPA treatment beyond the current three hours and help more people recover from stroke.
  • Clot retrieval via mechanical embolectomy. Because not all stroke patients are candidates for tPA, IU Health provides another leading edge treatment called endovascular clot retrieval. In this sophisticated procedure, neurosurgeons use catheters and a tiny clot-retrieval device to capture and remove a clot, thereby restoring blood flow to the brain.
  • Carotid endarterectomy. The carotid arteries run up each side of the neck and are the main arteries bringing blood and oxygen to the brain. People are at high risk for stroke if those arteries become blocked or narrowed because of plaque buildup. Carotid endarterectomy is a delicate and complex procedure in which surgeons remove plaque that has built up inside the carotid arteries. Carotid endarterectomy can help prevent strokes by restoring and improving blood flow in the carotid arteries.
  • Carotid stenting. In this minimally invasive procedure, interventional neuroradiologists use stents to prop open a carotid artery that needs better blood flow. Carotid stenting can be a treatment option for people who are not good candidates for endarterectomy. IU Health was one of the first hospitals to perform this procedure.

Hemorrhagic Stroke Treatment

Treatments for hemorrhagic stroke repair the cause of bleeding, relieving pressure on the brain and managing symptoms. Ruptured aneurysm and arteriovenous malformation (AVM) are the main causes of hemorrhagic stroke. The highly skilled experts at IU Health provide sophisticated treatment options for both aneurysm and AVM, including:

  • Coil embolization. To treat an aneurysm, neurosurgeons at IU Health thread a tiny, soft metal coil directly into the aneurysm. Once in place, the coil is released and blocks the blood supply to the aneurysm, which helps prevent stroke.
  • Surgical clipping. Clipping is a surgical procedure used to cut off an aneurysm’s blood supply before it ruptures and is an effective treatment for preventing future stroke. In this procedure, neurosurgeons make a small opening in the skull and place a tiny clip at the base of the aneurysm. The clip blocks blood from entering the aneurysm, which can prevent a rupture and cause the aneurysm to shrink. IU Health was one of the first in the nation to use a breakthrough fluorescence technology called INFRARED 800 to improve outcomes in surgical clipping. This technology minimizes the risk of complications by allowing any problems with the clips to be immediately identified and corrected.
  • Endovascular embolization. This less-invasive procedure can be a good option for treating an AVM deep in the brain. In endovascular embolization, interventional neuroradiologists insert a catheter into an artery in the groin and then thread it up into the brain. The catheter delivers a glue-like substance into the AVM, blocking its blood flow and causing it to shrink. Sometimes, endovascular embolization is the only treatment necessary. Other times, it is used in conjunction with another treatment.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery. This is a noninvasive treatment that uses targeted radiation to shrink the AVM. Our radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons use 3D images of the brain to help them deliver very high doses of radiation directly to the AVM. The radiation causes scar tissue to form around the AVM, blocking its blood supply, while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact. 
  • Surgical removal. This treatment may be recommended if the AVM is bleeding or in an easily reachable area of the brain. During surgery, our expert neurosurgeons clip the vessels that feed the AVM—cutting off its blood supply—and then remove it. In some patients, endovascular embolization is used before surgery to shrink the AVM, which can increase the likelihood of successful removal.

Transient Ischemic Attack Treatment

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) should be taken just as seriously as a stroke. About one-third of people who have a TIA will later have a more severe stroke. Treatment for TIA depends on a person’s risk factors and the results of a thorough examination by the stroke experts at IU Health. Our doctors may recommend medicine or surgery to reduce the risk of future stroke.

Neurocritical Care Unit

After treatment, all stroke patients are cared for in our neurocritical care unit, the largest such adult unit in the United States. There, neurosurgeons and critical care specialists provide around-the-clock monitoring and treatment, using the latest and most advanced technology.

Patient Story

Lonny's Story

As a church pastor, Lonny is no stranger to miracles. But he never thought he would be called one himself. Lonny was recovering from coronary artery bypass at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital when he was suddenly unable to move his right side. Intensive care doctors called the Stroke 1 team, a dedicated group of IU Health specialists, who immediately evaluated Lonny and determined he was having a stroke. An emergency procedure was performed to treat the stroke, and Lonny later received comprehensive speech and movement rehabilitation, which averted a significant permanent disability.

"My doctor said if I'd been at any other hospital in the state, I wouldn't be sitting here right now," said Lonny.