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'Clot nets' may be new alternative in stroke treatment

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Researchers believe using small nets to extract blood clots from patients’ brains may be a feasible alternatives to drugs in the future, BBC News reported.

When people suffer strokes, clots block blood vessels and starve parts of the brain of vital oxygen, which can lead to various symptoms, including paralysis and loss of speech.  Current methods to treat stroke involve using either clot-busting drugs, which must be administered within the first few hours, or pulling the clot out with a coil passed up through the groin.

The new method, on the other hand, uses a tiny wire cage instead of a coil, according to the BBC.  The cage pushes the clot against the walls of the artery and traps it in the wires.  Doctors then can pull the clot back out of the groin.  

In a clinical trial of 113 patients, 58 percent of those treated with the cage had good brain function after three months, compared to 33 percent treated with the coil.  A separate study of 178 patients showed those treated with the cage had nearly double the chance of living independently after treatment.

In the future, the cage method may be used as alternative to clot-busting drugs, if the drugs fail or cannot be used, Professor Jeffrey Saver from the University of California, Los Angeles, told the BBC.

"Clot-busting drugs only partially reopen 40 percent of large blocked arteries,” Saver said. “These devices partially reopen 70 to 90 percent of large blocked arteries. Second, these devices can be used in patients in whom it is not safe to give 'clot busting' drugs, such as patients taking anticoagulant medications, patients who had recent surgery, and patients who are between 4.5 to eight hours after stroke onset."

The Stroke Association told the BBC they were “very excited about this potential new treatment.”

Click for more from BBC News.