Revolutionary device proves a lifeline for stroke patients

Trial shows new stent-like clot retrieving device reduces deaths and prevents serious disability

SOLITAIRE has been shown in trials to reduce deaths and serious disability caused by strokes

An innovative new device has been proven to help to curb the number of deaths and serious disabilities caused by stroke.

Covidien’s SOLITAIRE Flow Restoration Device could be adopted as the new firstline treatment where strokes are caused by clots blocking blood vessels to the brain.

Currently, the most common treatment for sufferers is a drug that dissolves the clot, causing the artery to re-open and restoring blood flow. However, to be effective this has to be taken within three hours of the onset of stroke and it frequently fails to dissolve the larger blood clots which are responsible for the most disabling strokes.

The new SOLITAIRE device is sent through an artery in the leg to the brain. When it reaches the clot, the tip expands into a small stent-like metal cage or net, which grips the clot before it is extracted.

In a double-blind trial comparing the innovation to another clot retriever known as Merci, more than half those treated with SOLITAIRE – 58% - were found to have good mental and motor function three months after suffering a stroke. This compares to just a third of those treated with Merci. Additionally, 17% of those treated with SOLITAIRE died following the procedure, compared to 38% treated with Merci.

A second study showed patients treated with SOLITAIRE had almost double the chance of living independently after treatment.

Lead author of the latest study, Dr Jeffrey L Saver, director of the UCLA Stroke Center in America, said: “This new device is significantly changing the way we can treat ischemic stroke. We are going from our first generation of clot-removing procedures, which were only moderately good in re-opening target arteries, to now having a highly-effective tool.”

Welcoming the news, Dr Clare Walton of the Stroke Association said the findings could prove a lifeline for sufferers, adding: “\'Following a stroke, some people can receive clot-busting treatments to restore the flow of blood to the brain and reduce damage. However, these don’t always work and many patients aren’t eligible to receive them.

“Clot retrieval devices have the potential to be used with more stroke patients and are better at removing blood clots than clot-busting drugs. The Stroke Association is currently funding the first clinical trial of clot retrieval devices in the UK. We are very excited about this potential new treatment and look forward to further developments.”

The device has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US and the UK trial will provide the evidence for its future adoption by the NHS in the UK.

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