Science

’Clot nets’ to help better stroke recovery?

| | Updated on: Aug 26, 2012

Using small nets to extract blood clots from patients’ brains instead of a coil may improve their recovery, two new studies have claimed.

The latest methods involve a tiny wire cage instead of a coil. This pushes the clot up against the walls of the artery and enmeshes the clot in the wires, allowing doctors to pull the clot back out of the groin.

Two similar devices were compared with the current coil methods. One trial of 113 patients showed 58 per cent had good brain function after three months, compared with 33 per cent of those treated with the coil method, as well as a lower death rate.

Clots block blood vessels, starving parts of the brain of oxygen, which leads to symptoms such as paralysis and loss of speech.

Two studies, presented in the Lancet medical journal, suggest extracting clots with nets could improve recovery, the BBC reported.

There are already techniques for reopening blocked blood vessels in people’s brains.

Some patients will be given “clot-busting” drugs, but this needs to be in the hours just after the stroke and is not suitable for everyone.

Meanwhile, another study in 178 patients showed almost double the chance of living independently after treatment.

One of the researchers involved, Prof Jeffrey Saver from the University of California, Los Angeles, told the BBC that these techniques would become more common, as they are more likely to clear clots than drugs.

“Clot-busting drugs only partially reopen 40 per cent of large blocked arteries. These devices partially reopen 70-90 per cent of large blocked arteries.

“Second, these devices can be used in patients in whom it is not safe to give ‘clot busting’ drugs, such as patients taking anticoagulant medications, patients who had recent surgery, and patients who are between 4.5 to eight hours after stroke onset.”

In the long term he can see drugs being used as a first option and then clot removal if the drugs fail or cannot be used.

Reacting to the research, the Stoke Association’s Dr Clare Walton said clot-busters did not work for all patients so new techniques could help many patients.

“We are very excited about this potential new treatment and look forward to further developments,” Walton said.

The research was published to coincide with a European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich, the report said.

Published on August 26, 2012

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