Toronto: Canadian researchers are on the verge of perfecting a vaccum-like device to clear brain clots much faster than current clot-dissolving drugs, according to Indo-Canadian researcher Mayank Goyal.
Goyal, who is director of the Seaman Family MR Research Centre at the University of Calgary and a professor of radiology and clinical neurosciences, revealed at the on-going Canadian Stroke Congress on Quebec City Tuesday that the new device poses less risk of bleeding and works more effectively to save lives.
Unlike the clot-busting drugs which should be administered immediately after the brain stroke, the new procedure, being tested at various Canadian research centres, will be effective even up to six hours after the stroke, according to Goyal.
The Indo-Canadian researcher said a stroke chokes supply of oxygen to the brain, leading to death of brain cells. Since brain cells die quickly after a stroke, doctors have a very short time to save them by opening the blood-supplying vessels quickly, he said.
Clot-busting drugs are useful only if given immediately after the stroke. But these drugs are less ineffective if the clot is too big and is in smaller vessels, he said.
However, with the new device, "we have been able to salvage a significant number of patients who otherwise either would have had a very bad outcome, or may even have died," Goyal was quoted as saying by Canwest News Service.
Explaining how the new procedure works, Goyal said it uses X-ray guidance to feed a tiny tube through an incision in the groin up through the vessels in the neck, and then a small catheter is pushed into the brain and placed next to the clot. The catheter is then connected to a suction device which slowly sucks out the clot.
"Most often, we are able to open vessels in 10 to 15 minutes. We are saving about an hour, on average" as compared to clot-busting drugs, Goyal was quoted as saying.
He said many stroke patients treated with the new procedure at this centre are living a productive life.
Mike Sharma, another Indo-Canadian doctor attending the Canadian Stroke Congress, said the new device "treats the type of strokes we can`t treat very well - blockages of large blood vessels that can result in significant disability.``
Sharma, who is deputy director of the Canadian Stroke Network and works with the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital, led a national study on the cost of brain stroke for the Canadian economy.
According to him, it costs $50,000 each to treat 50,000 Canadians who suffer brain stroke each year, costing $2.5 billion to the country`s economy.