Patients who have suffered a stroke are to be offered a new treatment on the NHS, it has been reported. The process would effectively reverse the symptoms that can leave people paralysed for the rest of their lives.
Mechanical thrombectomy is being recommended in draft NHS England policy, which would see it rolled out in specialist centres across the country. The Sunday Times reports that doctors have said the procedure brings patients “back to life”.
To carry out the treatment, doctors insert a small tube into an artery in the groin and move it slowly towards the brain. Once the blood clot that has caused the stroke it located, it is either sucked into the tube or removed with a small wire instrument.
Severe blood clots can resist being broken down by drug treatments alone, meaning this could be a big step forward for stroke patients. Strokes are particularly prevalent in older people and can result in living the rest of their lives with minor or major disabilities.
Results from the trials that have been carried out show the procedure can improve the proportion of patients able to function independently just 90 days after a stroke. The increase has been found to be as much as 35 per cent.
Sanjeev Nayak, consultant neuroradiologist at the University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust, pioneered the treatment. He told the news provider: “This is one of the top ten medical innovations of the last decade.”
Figures from the Stroke Association suggest that there are more than 100,000 cases of strokes occurring in the UK every year. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the UK, but the most common cause of disability, making the new procedure all the more vital.
Nearly two-thirds of those who survive a stroke leave hospital with a disability. Some of the immediate side effects of a stroke can be less facial movement, diminished senses, problems communicating and a lowered attention span.
Through rehabilitation programmes and a healthy lifestyle, many of these symptoms can improve in the long-run, but for lots of people, they will remain for the rest of their lives. Mechanical thrombectomy could, therefore, make everyday living much better for many.