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New 'injection' treatment gives hope to stroke sufferers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Surgeons are using an exciting new treatment, which inserts drugs in the brain of stroke victims to dissolve "golf ball-sized" blood clots. The technique could assist the thousands of patients who suffer a bleeding stroke, or brain hemorrhage, for which there is no surgical treatment.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new study shows that clots were removed in 50 percent of patients given medication directly into the brain, compared with the just five percent of patients receiving standard care.

According to research presented at the American Stroke Association's annual conference, patients undergoing "clot-buster" drugs had significantly less disability a year later.

Bleeding strokes occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures and leaks blood into surrounding brain tissue, usually causing permanent damage and disability.

"There is now real hope we have a treatment for the last form of stroke that doesn't have a treatment - brain hemorrhage," Daniel Hanley, study leader and professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore says.

Hanley's study focused on 25 patients who the surgical procedure, plus the clot-buster drug and 31 had given standard post-stroke medical care, which is medical management only.

Surgeons cut a hole the size of a coin in the skull, where a catheter is pushed into the clot formed from blood that pooled during the stroke. The clot-busting drug, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator or 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.
 
Patients in the study had blood clots about the size of a golf ball, Hanley said.

The procedure removed 57 percent of the clots on average.

"The normal healing processes may be occurring more rapidly when you remove the blood," Hanley says. "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, was discharged from hospital almost six weeks earlier and was less likely to be in a long-term care facility than other patients.

The surgical group had 14 percent better physical and mental function than the care-only group.

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