Snagging blood clots upgrades stroke care | Science News

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Snagging blood clots upgrades stroke care

A new device threaded up to the brain can unblock jammed cerebral arteries

3:10pm, May 19, 2015
opening brain vessel

GRAB AND GO  A new medical device uses a catheter to deliver a wire mesh stent to snag and remove stroke-causing blood clots from inside brain arteries, restoring blood flow. 

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Taking a cue from cardiology, doctors have begun treating strokes caused by blood clots in the brain by the most direct route imaginable — approaching the blockage from inside the artery.

The concept is well-tested. Obstructed heart vessels are routinely opened with balloon-tipped catheters threaded up to the blockage. Attempts to clear obstructions in the brain have proved devilishly difficult, though (SN: 10/8/11, p. 14). Just two years ago, the idea appeared doomed.

But recently, a string of successes using a new device made just for the brain has rendered clot extraction a reality, revolutionizing stroke treatment. Five studies all show that people in the throes of a major clot-based stroke are better off getting the clot removed by a stent-tipped catheter plus standard care than by getting standard care alone. Four trials were stopped

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