Studies using two kinds of devices that actively break up clots and suck out the fragments have shown "no benefit and some harm," Stone said. The new study uses a more passive suction device, which smaller trials have shown gives results that are "mixed to slightly positive," he said.
"This trial is significant, because it is the largest study ever done," Stone said. "It pretty much showed what the other trials have shown. It showed trends in the right direction, although they were not statistically significant."
Because the study had some weaknesses, notably lacking a measure of the size of coronary muscle affected by the heart attacks, "I don't think it will have a major impact on how people practice," Stone said. "People who were on the fence may start using it in selected cases. But, unfortunately, it is not a definitive study."
Learn about treatment of heart attacks from the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Felix Zijlstra, M.D., Ph.D., professor, cardiology, University of Gronigen, Netherlands; Gregg W. Stone, M.D., professor, medicine, Columbia University, New York City; Feb. 7, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine
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