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New stroke treatment prevents disability

The majority of patients with severe stroke recover better and faster if the blocked blood vessel is re-opened quickly using a small stent to capture the clot and pull it out of the brain through a catheter.

 The patients will suffer less brain damage, have fewer neurological problems and function better in daily life. This is shown by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Behandeling herseninfarct met katheterThe study, in which 19 Dutch hospitals participated, was coordinated by Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam and Maastricht University Medical Center+ and was funded by the Dutch Heart Foundation (Hartstichting). The findings were also presented at the World Stroke Congress in Istanbul.

The effects of a stroke are often severe, and include speech and language problems or paralysis. Without acute ischemic stroke (AIS) treatment, almost half of all patients become severely disabled. To date, it is standard practice that stroke patients receive clot-dissolving drugs intravenously. This is effective in only 1 in 10 patients.

With this new method, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel through a small opening in the groin and advanced to an artery in the neck. Subsequently a thin catheter is navigated to the blocked artery in the brain. The blood clot is then captured using a small stent and removed from the brain through the catheter in the neck. 

The study shows that patients who undergo this new treatment recover better than patients who do not. The physicians also noticed that the brain scans showed less brain damage after the new treatment method. Patients had less difficulty with, for example, walking, getting dressed and their daily activities.

"This study can have a major impact on the treatment of patients with an AIS,” said Professor Diederik Dippel, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the lead investigator. “Many patients would be eligible for this new treatment method, potentially sparing a large number of patients from a life with serious disabilities."

Read the full press release.

Date published: 18 December 2014.

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