Researchers: Stent retrievers changing how stroke patients are treated

Loyola University

Researchers at Loyola University Chicago say stent retrievers, which can effectively reverse strokes, are revolutionizing the way stroke patients are being treated.

The devices are a self-expanding mesh tube attached to a wire that is guided through a catheter. An endovascular specialist inserts the catheter in an artery in the groin and then guides the catheter through various blood vessels all the way up to the brain.

Medtronic's ($MDT) Solitaire and Stryker's ($SYK) Trevo ProVue are two of the more popular stent retrievers among the current generation of the devices.

"Stent retrievers are a major advance in acute ischemic stroke care and will have significant impact on the evolution of stroke systems of care," the researchers, neurologists Dr. Rick Gill and Dr. Michael Schneck, wrote in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.

According to Gill and Schneck, 87% of strokes are ischemic, meaning they are caused by clots that block blood flow to a portion of the brain. In some patients, stent retrievers can be used to remove such clots. At the university's hospital, stent retrievers were used on 34 patients in 2015, and 21 patients during the first 6 months of 2016.

When the device reaches the blockage in the brain, the endovascular specialist deploys it. The device pushes the gelatinous blood clot against the wall of the blood vessel, immediately restoring blood flow. The stent retriever then grabs the clot, which is removed as the catheter is withdrawn from the patient.

Earlier this year, Medtronic released a study that showed its Solitair device improves functional outcomes and reduced mortality among patients older than 80 from 40% to 20%.

That study, along with several others, have triggered a revolution in stroke care. Hospitals are scrambling to add specialized stroke centers which deploy the devices to treat stroke patients, who are often brought in from community hospitals that do not offer the procedure, known as stent thrombectomy.

- check out the Loyola article