A PROCEDURE to remove blood clots the size of a golf ball from stroke patients by injecting a drug straight into the brain could offer hope for sufferers, scientists believe. Researchers say the technique, designed for those who have had a bleeding stroke, appears safe and may also reduce long-term disability.
During the treatment, surgeons cut a hole the size of a small coin in the patient’s skull.
A catheter is passed into the brain tissue and pushed through the longest part of the clot, which has formed from blood that pooled during the stroke.
The clot-busting drug, called recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA), is then applied to the clot via the catheter every eight hours for about three days and the clot is removed through the catheter. The study involved 96 patients at 26 hospitals who had suffered a bleeding, or haemorrhagic, stroke, which is caused when a damaged or weakened artery bursts and bleeds.
The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.
Daniel Hanley, lead author of the study and professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, predicted the procedure "could make a substantial difference”.
He said: "There is now real hope we have a treatment for the last form of stroke that doesn’t have a treatment – brain haemorrhage.”
The study’s patients had blood clots with an average volume of 46mm, about the size of a golf ball, he said. He added that, "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.”
The procedure removed 57% of the clots on average, while clots naturally dissolved in only about 5% of patients in the study who had not received the drug.
Researchers also noted that no haemorrhage was too large or too deep in the brain to be helped by the procedure.
Patients who had surgery between 36 and 72 hours after their stroke fared as well as those treated sooner, the researchers found. – The Daily Telegraph