C. Michael Cawley, MD, has been named director of the Emory MBNA Stroke Center, one of the nation’s leading hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke treatment and research centers. Dr. Cawley recently assumed leadership from Daniel Barrow, MD, who has led the Stroke Center since it began over two decades ago.
Dr. Cawley is also the director of Emory’s Neuro-Interventional Radiology & Endovascular Neurosurgery program, as well professor in the Emory University Department of Neurosurgery with a joint appointment in the Department of Radiology. He completed his neurosurgical residency at Emory University School of Medicine, followed by a fellowship in cerebrovascular neurosurgery in Florida. Shortly after, Dr. Cawley returned to Georgia to complete an endovascular fellowship at Emory. Over the last several years, Dr. Cawley has become a leader in performing both open cerebrovascular and endovascular procedures for a variety of vascular disorders of the central nervous system.
Dr. Cawley’s vast experience and dedication to providing advanced stroke care will continue to build on the excellence of the Emory MBNA Stroke Center. But where does he envision the Emory MBNA Stroke Center will go next under his leadership? Dr. Cawley explains below.
What is your goal for the Emory MBNA Stroke Center?
My goal for the Stroke Center is to build upon the major research and treatment advances that we use to treat our patients, and continue to enable our exceptional team of stroke specialists to improve lives and provide hope for thousands of patients.
While Emory has developed a national and international reputation in the management of hemorrhagic stroke, the treatment of ischemic stroke – the more common type due to blockage of blood flow – will be a huge part of the future of the Emory MBNA Stroke Center. Only recently have we seen proven therapies for ischemic stroke developed, and our mission is to continue to provide these nearly miraculous interventions to more and more of our community. Our multidisciplinary team has among the very best outcomes in the nation, and I look forward to continuing our lifesaving work pioneering new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke.
What sets the Emory MBNA Stroke Center apart from others?
From our comprehensive team approach to our specialty expertise, there are several differentiators that help set Emory apart.
- We have a multidisciplinary team comprised of physicians in neurology, neurosurgery, neurocritical care and interventional neuroradiology to allow comprehensive care to patients.
- Our team has vast amounts of experience and expertise in the hemorrhagic stroke field. Looking at statistics in terms of discharges to home, not just survival, we’re far above the national and regional average. We have access to the latest tools and devices to push the envelope of what’s possible, but also the experience and wisdom to deploy these tools judiciously.
- We are also on the cutting edge of the development of endovascular treatment techniques for ischemic stroke. One of those treatments is mechanical thrombectomy – where we go inside the blood vessel and use various methods to capture a clot and pull it out to re-establish blood flow to a starved brain. This therapy has been a monumental medical advancement, and has created remarkable change in our field in what we’re able to do, and the outcomes we can achieve.
- Patients have access to a neurocritical care unit. Having neurocritical care doctors specifically trained in taking care of intensive neurologically-damaged patients in a sequestered ICU has made a huge difference.
- Our partnerships with other medical centers are on the forefront of expansion into the wider metro area. We want to act as a resource for our community and other non-Emory hospitals by extending the benefit our expertise on a timely basis.
What advances and innovations do you see in the future for stroke care?
I think there are a number of advancements on the hemorrhagic side. Several of those that we have been involved with are using novel devices in the treatment of brain aneurysms. They include:
- Woven EndoBridge® (WEB) device, which is a small mesh “pillow” that we insert in an aneurysm from inside the artery, under X-ray guidance. This allows us to treat the aneurysm without open brain surgery and without having to put the patient on blood thinners. Emory was the first, and is still one of the few, hospitals in Georgia and the region to offer WEB for aneurysm treatment.
- New generations of Flow Diverters, which are mesh tubes we put in arteries that divert the blood out of an aneurysm, allowing the aneurysm to regress and the artery to heal itself from the inside.
On the ischemic side, though the devices are somewhat mature, their application is growing rapidly.
- Stent-retrievers, which have been revolutionary, are now able to be deployed in ever-smaller arteries What we’re doing now is refining the catheters we use to get to the clot, and get it out quickly. We can now go further into smaller arteries to perform super-selective thrombectomy in blood vessels that are as small as one millimeter in diameter.
If there is one thing you could tell your patients, what would that be?
If we are taking care of you for hemorrhagic stroke, rest assured that we have as much, or more, experience than any other medical center in the country. We’ve done this many times and we’re going to do our level-best for you. With a comprehensive team in place, we will give you the best chance for a best-possible outcome.
When it comes to ischemic stroke, timing is the most important thing here. You can’t wait. If you suspect you or a loved one is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. We can do incredible things to reverse a life-threatening or life-altering blockage in blood flow to the brain – but we have to get on it quickly. If you or a loved one demonstrate any of the signs below, don’t delay in calling 9-1-1.
For more information on strokes, see this list of frequently asked questions.
About Emory MBNA Stroke Center
The Emory MBNA Stroke Center was established in 2002, with financial support from MBNA Bank, to continue the world-class management of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke from emergent interventions through recovery and rehabilitation. Our diagnostic and therapeutic resources are among the finest in the nation. The multidisciplinary approach of the Emory MBNA Stroke Center ensures high-quality, patient-focused medical care, treatment and education. The Center earned the elite Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in 2013.
Emory Brain Health Center
The Emory Brain Health Center uniquely integrates neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, rehabilitation medicine and sleep medicine to offer world-class, patient-centered care, treatment and discovery for brain and spinal cord conditions. Bringing these multiple specialties together allows more than 400 researchers and clinicians to work in partnership to predict, prevent, treat and cure devastating diseases and disorders of the brain more rapidly.
Emory’s multidisciplinary approach is transforming the world’s understanding of the vast frontiers of the brain, harnessing imagination and discovery to address 21st century challenges.
Learn more about comprehensive, diagnostic and innovative treatment options at the Emory Brain Health Center.