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Dr. Ajay Yadlapati is a cardiologist at Sharp Memorial Hospital. Courtesy photo
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Sharp Memorial offers specialized technology for treating strokes

A stroke can be a life-changing event. In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. 

About 40% of these events are ischemic strokes, which are caused by a blockage in blood supply to the brain and may not have an obvious cause.

Many people who have these types of strokes may have a hole in their heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). This hole is present in all people at birth and closes shortly after birth, in most people.

But in about 30% of people, it does not fully close. Later in life, blood clots can form and leave the heart through this hole, reaching the brain and causing strokes or mini-strokes known as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). 

Until recently, the technology available to find these holes has been limited to ultrasound. While useful for examining the heart’s structures, ultrasound is less effective at finding PFOs and determining the risk they present. Ajay Yadlapati, MD, a cardiologist at Sharp Memorial Hospital, says, “I really feel for these patients as they are usually scared about further strokes in the future.” 

In October 2022, Sharp Memorial became the first hospital in Southern California to offer a new technology called robotic transcranial Doppler (TCD) to accurately detect PFOs. 

With the latest advancements in robotic TCD technology, PFOs are three times more likely to be found and the risk of stroke is better determined. “This is the missing link in a comprehensive stroke program,” says Dr. Yadlapati.

Closing a PFO is a low-risk procedure that typically does not require an overnight hospital stay. Only a small device, which is placed through a vein in the leg, is needed. This can significantly reduce the risk of future strokes and TIAs, so detection is key. 

Sharp Memorial has been working with the new TCD technology longer than any other hospital in Southern California and is still the only hospital offering robotic TCD services in San Diego County.

If you or a loved one has had a stroke or TIA with an unexplained cause, speak with your doctor about robotic TCD. 

To learn more, visit or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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