A device that grabs and drags a blood clot out through the blood vessels should be used to treat certain stroke victims, according to new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association.
Nearly nine out of 10 strokes are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain, the American Heart Association (AHA) said. Standard stroke treatment relies on powerful blood-thinning medications that break up the clot and restore blood flow to the brain.
But when those drugs don’t work, doctors now can turn to a new catheter-based device that will physically remove the blood clot, said Dr. William Powers, lead author of the updated AHA guidelines and chair of neurology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The tool, called an endovascular stent retrieval device, is made up of wire mesh that resembles a tiny ring of chicken wire, Powers said.
Skilled surgeons run the device up through a person’s arteries via a catheter, and then open it smack in the middle of a stroke-causing blood clot.
“If you actually deploy or open one in the middle of a clot, it smooshes out and the clot gets caught in the chicken wire, and then you pull the whole thing out back through the artery,” Powers said.
The new guidelines were published June 29 in the journal Stroke.
The AHA issued its updated guidelines based primarily on the results of six new clinical trials released within the past eight months, Powers said. All of these studies showed that the device can safely and effectively stop a stroke by removing blood clots, he added.
A number of other medical societies have endorsed the AHA’s new guidelines, including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Society of Vascular and Interventional Neurology.