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Stents Show Promise in Treating Brain Blockages
Date:1/18/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Stents, already used to open clogged heart arteries, might have another use: clearing arterial blockages in the brain after traditional stroke treatments fail.

In new research involving 19 stroke patients, doctors say this experimental application appears nearly full-proof in unblocking brain arteries in patients for whom other clot-removal methods didn't work.

"The bottom line is that stroke is a deadly condition," said study lead author Dr. Italo Linfante, director of endovascular neurosurgery and interventional neuroradiology at the Baptist Cardiac and Vascular Institute in Miami. "Up to 10 years ago it was a death sentence. Yet now if you go to the hospital early enough with a stroke there are several ways to be treated."

Current treatments are 60 percent successful, he noted, "so we are always looking to develop better and better weapons, and pushing the limits to fix it. And with stents we are reaching 95 percent, in terms of successfully opening up the arteries."

Linfante and his team are slated to present their findings this week in Miami at the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET).

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States today. Ischemic strokes, caused by blood clots, are the more common type of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke, the other type, occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.

Before participating in the study, none of the patients had benefited from standard treatments used to remove arterial blockages in the brain. These blockages reduce normal blood flow and raise the risk for death and disability. Standard treatments range from clot-dissolving drugs to procedures aimed at suctioning out blockages.

By inserting stents -- tiny metal mesh tubes -- into blocked cranial arteries, the study team was able to open up arterial passages in 18 of the
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