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New hope for stroke sufferers

11 February 2013

New hope for stroke sufferers

Surgeons have been using a ground-breaking technique which can dissolve ‘golf-ball sized’ blood clots on the brain.

The treatment involves cutting a hole the size of a 10 pence piece into the skull and pushing a catheter into the clot.  The drug, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA,) is fed into the clot every 8 hours for 3 days and the liquefied clot is removed through the catheter.

A study looked at 25 patients who were given this new treatment, and 31 who were given the standard post-stroke medical care.

The results showed that 50% of clots were removed in those given the medication directly into the brain compared to just 5% in those receiving standard care.  Patients receiving the new ‘clot-buster’ drugs also had significantly less disability a year later and were discharged from hospital almost six weeks earlier.

Daniel Hanley, study leader and professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, said, “There is now real hope we have a treatment for the last form of stroke that doesn’t have a treatment – brain haemorrhage.”

He added, “The normal healing processes may be occurring more rapidly when you remove the blood.  We believe we’re actually stopping brain injury and preserving brain tissue that would otherwise be lost.”