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