Conditions + Treatments

Arterial Ischemic Stroke Treatment in Children

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Contact the Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center

Is my child having a stroke?

If you see any of these symptoms in your child, don't wait -- go directly to an emergency room
  •  weakness on one side of the body
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty walking or instability when standing
  • vision loss
  • first-time seizure
  • a change in mental state

Treating children who have experienced Arterial Ischemic Stroke

Arterial ischemic stroke is a medical emergency, and treatment usually starts in the emergency department. There, the care team will quickly determine whether clot-dissolving drugs such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) should be administered.

In cases when drugs alone cannot successfully restore blood flow and the child faces potentially severe neurologic problems, tiny, catheter-based devices are sometimes used to remove the clot mechanically. Guided by neuroimaging, these devices are specially designed to extract or suction out the clot from the inside. Although they were originally designed for adults, the Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center at Boston Children’s has pioneered their use in children, in carefully chosen cases.

Based on the results of blood testing, there may be additional treatment for any clotting disorder or blood disease that has been identified. If the AIS is caused by a problem in an artery, the care team may recommend a surgical or catheter-based procedure, depending on the nature of the problem.

For example, if the stroke was caused by arterial dissection, a tear along the lining of an artery, the team may place a stent inside the vessel, or, if damage is extensive, perform bypass surgery to reroute blood flow. If the stroke was caused by moyamoya disease, which leads to thickened, narrowed vessels, an operation called pial synangiosis can decrease the risk of future strokes by providing a new blood supply to the oxygen-starved parts of the brain.

Stroke specialists oversee the child’s long-term care and will provide referrals to physical or occupational therapy and speech/language therapy to improve the child’s functioning and quality of life. At Boston Children’s, a comprehensive rehabilitation plan is tailored to each child’s needs.


We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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