A Life-Saving Victory for a Collegiate Athlete
 
 
As a collegiate soccer player, Marissa Arnold knows that second chances on the field are rare. But, thanks to Hartford Hospital's high-tech medicine, the 20-year-old junior at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., got far more than another shot on goal. Thanks to Hartford Hospital, she got a second chance at life after a massive stroke.

On Oct. 10, she was taken to Holyoke Hospital where her father, Doug Arnold, found her "in a coma, totally paralyzed on her right side and on a ventilator." A CT scan showed that she had suffered an ischemic stroke. A blockage was cutting off the blood supply to the entire left side of her brain. A clot-busting drug was administered.

Then Marissa Arnold was flown by LIFE STAR to Hartford Hospital's Stroke Center, where interventional radiologist Dr. Stephen K. Ohki removed the blockage from Arnold's brain using the MERCI Retriever.

Learn More About the Technology

Images created by the OsiriX DICOM viewer of an aneurysm in a carotid artery. Click to learn more.
Read how Drs Gary Spiegel and Roger Katen designed a Mac-based image archive solution for the Hartford Hospital Stroke Clinic that helped them save both money and lives. (more)


The MERCI System allows the physician to insert a catheter into the femoral artery thorough a small incision in the groin. The catheter is threaded up to the brain using X-ray imaging. A small balloon is inflated and then the helical tip of the retriever grabs the blockage and draws it into the catheter. The balloon is then deflated, the catheter removed, and normal blood flow is restored to the threatened area of the brain.

Marissa Arnold was home in Simsbury three days later. "She is totally fine," says her father. "No heart problems, no speech problems, no limp or facial sag, no nothing."

While not a panacea for all stroke patients, the MERCI Retriever has been shown to be remarkably effective in a significant number of stroke patients. It is currently available in only 215 U.S. hospitals, including Hartford Hospital.