A new device that traps blood clots in stroke victims and removes them from the brain has been successfully trialled in the US.
There are two types of strokes, ischaemic strokes and haemorrhagic strokes. It is estimated that strokes kill around 200 people every day in the UK, and the NHS spends £2.3bn a year treating and looking after the 100,000 sufferers.
An ischaemic stroke happens when a clot forms in an artery or vein in the brain and the supply of oxygen-rich blood cells to the area is affected. A haemorrhagic stroke is when an artery or vein bursts inside the skill and blood pours out into the brain.
Around 85 per cent of victims are affected by ischaemic strokes.
Currently, sufferers of an ischaemic stroke are treated with a clot-removing drug called tissue plasminogen activator. However, these drugs are only really effective within the first three hours after the stroke, before the clot becomes too well developed to be broken up.
An experimental new gadget, called the Solitaire Flow Restoration Device, could be used after this three hour deadline, according to research carried out at the University of California.
With the device, a tiny tube is inserted into the artery in the leg, and fed through the body until it reaches the clot. A collapsible metal cage attached to the end of the tube is then sprung open, trapping the clot which can then be drawn into the tube and removed from the body.
Researchers compared the device with a clot-busting machine already approved by the FDA called the Merci retriever in a trial of 113 patients.
Their results, presented at the American Stroke Association annual conference, show that the Solitaire successfully restored blood flow in 61 per cent of patients compared to just 24 per cent of those given the Merci.
Three months after the treatment, the mortality rate of those given the Solitaire treatment was just 17.2 per cent, compared with 38.2 per cent given the Merci.
Professor Kennedy Lees, an expert in stroke treatment from Glasgow University, said: ‘It’s potentially very useful, but it needs to be fully tested because it may be that restoring blood flow so late on has no clinical benefit.
‘In addition, these devices do carry some risk of bleeding if they cause injury to the blood vessels.’
Patients with private medical insurance often have access to drugs and treatments not available on the NHS. If the Solitaire Flow Restoration Device is successful, it could be available in the UK in as little as two years. Compare health insurance online now to be covered for revolutionary treatments like this one.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012