World Stroke Day: The MUHC’s new Comprehensive Stroke Treatment Programs


Published: 29Oct2015

The MUHC’s secondary and tertiary stroke care programs bring together multidisciplinary experts, the latest in scientific advances, and state of the art equipment to provide world-class treatment, reducing death rates and long-term disability.

Every 10 minutes, a Canadian suffers a stroke. It is the third leading cause of death in Canada with about 14,000 Canadian dying of stroke each year.

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. It is caused by the interruption of flow of blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). The interruption of blood flow or the rupture of blood vessels causes brain cells (neurons) in the affected area to die. The effects of a stroke depend on where the brain was injured, as well as how much damage occurred. A stroke can impact any number of areas including the ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason, read and write. (Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation)

For every minute an ischemic stroke is left untreated, 2 million brain cells are destroyed. That is why it is crucial for patients suffering a stroke to get treatment in the shortest delay possible.

A Comprehensive Governmental Stroke Care Strategy
Since 2013, the Quebec Ministry of Health has been putting in place a comprehensive stroke strategy designed to improve stroke prevention and healthcare services offered to the more than 12,000 Quebeckers who experience a stroke every year. As part of this strategy, the provincial Government devised an accreditation program with rigorous criteria to provide Quebeckers with access to highly specialized centres.  The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) was granted accreditation in June 2015 following a successful reorganization of services that optimized the speed and quality of care for stroke patients. Two programs were put in place:  the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) was designated as a secondary stroke centre and the Montreal Neurological Hospital (MNH),as a  tertiary stroke centre.  The program is co-chaired by Teresa Mack, Administrative Director of the MUHC’s Neuroscience Mission, and Dr. Robert Côté, medical director of the MUHC Stroke Program.

The Neuro’s Tertiary Stroke Unit: a Canadian Gold Standard in Stroke Care
As a tertiary centre, The Neuro’s team treats victims of hyper-acute stroke, which is a stroke that has occurred within few hours before the patient’s arrival at the centre. As part of the Tertiary designation, The Neuro’s program has specialists on-site 24 hours a day, an Intensive Care Unit, an interventional neuroradiologist, neurosurgeons, and beds dedicated to stroke patients.

Following the move of the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) to the Glen Yard site, The Neuro, opened a highly-specialized Receiving Area (RA) as part of its Intensive Care Unit (ICU), for incoming stroke patients, the RA provides Montrealers with the Gold standard in the delivery of acute stroke care.

 “As soon as they arrive by ambulance, patients with stroke symptoms get immediate attention in the RA. Within 15 to 30 minutes of a patient’s arrival, l a neurological examination, CT scans and other tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine a rapid course of treatment.” Said Dr. Jeanne Teitelbaum , Program Director for Neurocritical Care, Montreal Neurological Institute and co-site leader  of the acute stroke program at the Neuro.

Access to Cutting-Edge Treatment
The Neuro’s Tertiary Stroke Care Centre is one of two centres in the Montreal area to offer cutting edge stroke treatment by trained experts.

Since early 2015, in light of recent medical trial results conducted with the participation of the Neuro, the  Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has incorporated endovascular thrombectomy (ET) in its Best Practice Guidelines for acute stroke care. ET is a revolutionary procedure, involving the insertion of a device in a patient’s blocked artery. Guided with X-ray imaging, the device enables the removal of blood clots, sending blood rushing back to the brain and saving patients from debilitating neurological damage.  

“We have been performing this procedure for over 20 years. With advances in neuroimagery we are now able to determine in record time which patients to administer it to. Watching the procedure being performed and observing the blood rushing back to brain tissue that would have suffered irreversible damage without it, is truly moving. We know that we are now able to make a real difference in the lives of our patients.” said Dr. Donatella Tampieri, Head of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, and co-site leader of the acute stroke program at the Neuro.

The procedure was shown to cut in half the death rate from major ischemic strokes. Studies also showed an increase in functional positive outcomes for patients to 55 per cent from 30 per cent. (Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation)

The MUHC is the only medical institution in Quebec to have both tertiary and secondary stroke centres. Both units are ultra-specialized and provide rapid assessment, diagnostics and treatment for any type of stroke intervention. The MUHC specialists are dedicated to providing care and treatment of the highest standards and to continue to look for innovative ways to improve the outcome for stroke patients.

For more information on the Montreal General Hospital stroke clinic

For more information on strokes visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro---is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical center in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute. The Montreal Neurological Hospital is part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. For more information, please visit

Contact Information

Maya-Olivia Eyssen
Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
maya-olivia.eyssen [at]
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