New brain 'injection' treatment gives hope to 20,000 stroke sufferersGroundbreaking new treatment dissolves 'golf ball-sized' clotsPatients who use drugs had less disability a year later, study saysClots removed in 50 per cent of patients given medication, compared to just 5 per cent receiving standard care
01:26 GMT, 8 February 2013
07:58 GMT, 8 February 2013
Groundbreaking: New treatment which sees drugs inserted in the brain of stroke victims could help thousands who suffer a brain haemorrhage (file picture
Surgeons are inserting drugs in the brain of stroke victims to dissolve ‘golf ball-sized’ clots in a groundbreaking new treatment.
The technique could help thousands of patients who suffer a bleeding stroke, or brain haemorrhage, for which there is currently no surgical treatment.
A study shows that clots were removed in 50 per cent of patients given medication directly into the brain, compared with just 5 per cent of patients receiving standard care.
Patients having surgery using ‘clot-buster’ drugs had significantly less disability a year later, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s annual conference.
Bleeding strokes in the brain affect one in seven stroke victims in the UK – about 20,000 a year – and occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures and leaks blood into surrounding brain tissue, often causing permanent damage and disability.
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.’
His study focused on 25 patients who had the surgical procedure plus the clot-buster drug and 31 given standard post-stroke medical care, which is medical management only.
During the treatment, surgeons cut a hole the size of a 10p coin in the skull and a catheter is pushed into the clot formed from blood that pooled during the stroke. The clot-busting drug, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA), is fed into the clot via the catheter every eight hours for about three days. As the clot liquefies, it is removed through the catheter.
The study’s patients had blood clots with an average volume of 46 millilitres, about the size of a golf ball, Dr Hanley said.
The procedure removed 57 per cent of the clots on average.
Injection: Patients having surgery using 'clot-buster' drugs had significantly less disability a year later, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's annual conference
Dr Hanley said: ‘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.’
Patients treated with surgery and a clot-busting drug had less disability, were discharged from hospital almost six weeks earlier and were less likely to be in a long-term care facility than other patients.
The surgical group had 14 per cent better physical and mental function than the care-only group.