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Innovative devices helping to boost stroke care

Innovative devices helping to boost stroke care
30th June 2016

Innovative devices, which work to effectively reverse strokes, are leading the way for pioneering treatment for patients.

This is according to an article published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, which called these stent retrievers a "major advance" in acute ischemic stroke care.

The majority of strokes (87 per cent) are ischemic, meaning they are caused by clots that prevent blood from flowing into the brain. Stent retrievers work by removing the clot, enabling blood flow to continue as normal.

Researchers from Loyola Medicine, which includes a network of hospital and medical facilities, suggest these devices will have "significant impact on the evolution of stroke systems of care".

A self-expanding mesh, the stent retriever is attached to a wire that is guided through a catheter, which is inserted into an artery in the groin and then travels up to the brain.

Once the device reaches the clot, it is able to push the blockage against the wall of the blood vessel, immediately restoring blood flow. The stent retriever can then grab the clot and remove it as the catheter is pulled out.

Neurologists Dr Rick Gill, outgoing chief resident, and Dr Michael J. Schneck, a professor in the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, looked at the ways stent retrievers could be used to improve stroke care.

During their research, the pair used stent retrievers on 34 patients in 2015, and 21 patients during the first six months of 2016.

They found that the device could help some individuals more than the current treatment method, which involves drugs being used to restore blood flow and limit stroke damage. However, there are limitations, as it has to be administered within 4.5 hours of the onset of the stroke and the clot must be fairly small.

In addition, for some patients, this treatment is unsafe or not sufficient by itself to restore blood flow. In this instance, a stent retriever could be used to remove the clot.

Dr Gill and Dr Schneck suggest the innovative development of stent retrievers has led to "a paradigm shift" in how catheter-based procedures are being used in stroke care.

They say the current devices available are a significant improvement on earlier devices, which had mixed results when used in patients.

However, studies show that the newer devices are clearly superior previous retrievers and are better than simply using drugs to tackle the clot.

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