According to two highly-anticipated studies that were finally released on February 11, 2015, identifying and removing a clot blocking the flow of blood to the brain, rather than just administering drugs to dissolve it, dramatically improves the chances that patients will recover from a stroke.
According to the larger of the two studies, the surgical procedure nearly halved the rate of deaths caused by strokes.
The research reflects a large Dutch study published in December, called MR CLEAN, that also found a benefit from fishing a clot out of an artery. Taken together, the studies offer a really persuasive argument that scientists have uncovered the potential for something great.
The two studies were reported at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference in Nashville and released in summary form by the New England Journal of Medicine.
In one trial, called ESCAPE and conducted at 22 centers worldwide, 53 percent of 120 patients who had clot removal via a tube fed into a blood vessel of the brain were functionally independent 90 days later. Of the 118 who received only the standard clot-busting drug, only 29 percent were functionally independent. While 19 percent of patients receiving drugs alone died within three months, only 10.4 percent of those whose clots were removed died.