Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Stent Retrievers Improve the Odds of Recovery From a Stroke

A device called a stent retriever can improve the odds of recovery from an ischemic stroke, brought on by a clot that blocks blood flow in an artery in the brain. The stent retriever is a tube-shaped wire mesh device similar to the stents that are used to open blocked arteries in the heart. In the case of a stroke, however, the device is inserted into the blocked artery in the brain, where it enmeshes and entraps the clot so that it can be pulled out.

Stent retrievers (and the surgeons trained to use them) have been available for a while now in hospitals with state-of-the-the art endovascular treatment units. Generally that does not include your local clinic or small hospital; more likely it's a large regional hospitals. That may prove to be important, because new findings show that the stent retriever technique is highly effective IF it is done soon after the stroke. Using "functional independence" as the definition of recovery from a stroke, 91% of stroke patients recover if the stent retriever technique is performed within 2 1/2 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. However, recovery percentages decline rapidly if treatment is delayed. The recovery percentage declines an additional 10% if treatment is delayed another hour, and another 20% for each additional hour after that. By 5 1/2 hours after the stroke, recovery after the stent retrieval procedure is only about 40%.

Stent retrievers are shaping up to be a lifesaver for stroke victims with quick access to a well-equipped health care center. But burn this into your brain; in the case of a stroke, getting to treatment (any treatment) quickly is absolutely essential. Like the stent retrieval procedure, clot-dissolving drugs also are more effective when they are administered soon after a stroke.

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