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Stroke

Clot retrieval, a new ‘stroke’ of hope

A study involving patients in New Zealand has proved the efficacy of a treatment that removes blood clots from the brain. The procedure dramatically improves the recovery of stroke victims. Recently a young patient in Auckland affected a full recovery from a stroke which threatened to leave him with severe mobility issues.

Called clot retrieval the effectiveness of the treatment has been proved by studies in Holland, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Still, it could take up to five years before it is rolled out as standard practice in hospitals around the world.

The surgery is complex, resource intensive and involves inserting a thin tube known as a catheter through the groin and into the brain to draw out the clot. Stroke ranks third next only to heart disease and cancer as a cause for death and it occurs usually when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery supplying blood to brain. If the clot does not break up within a few hours, the brain stops working.

The standard treatment so far is to try and bust the clot with drugs and clear the artery. But this works only in one in three cases. Clot retrieval, on the other hand, is successful 80 per cent of the time.

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