Breaking up clots with a special laser catheter can quickly restore blood flow to the brain in stroke patients, physicians report in the medical journal Stroke.
Breaking up clots with a special laser catheter can quickly restore blood flow to the brain in stroke patients, physicians report in the medical journal Stroke. Clot-busting drugs are a common treatment for stroke, but not all patients are candidates for such therapy. In contrast, the clot-busting catheter, known as EPAR, doesn’t use drugs but rather breaks up the clots by mechanical means. EPAR is ideally suited for patients who, because of bleeding disorders, are at increased risk for problems with clot-busting drugs, according to Stephanos Papademetriou, president of California-based Selva Medical, which is marketing the catheter. The device delivers laser energy that is converted to acoustic energy and produces “cavitation bubbles,” which cause the clot to be “sucked” into the catheter tip where it is emulsified. “To my knowledge, no other method (of clot busting) uses a true emulsification device that gets close to the (clot) and breaks it down to” tiny particles, Papademetriou told Reuters Health. In the current study, Dr. Ansgar Berlis at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and associates examined the outcomes of 34 patients treated with EPAR. Reopening of the blocked blood vessel was achieved in 11 of 18 patients whose EPAR treatment was successfully completed. Treatment could not be completed in 16 patients because of such factors as vessel location or device malfunction. Still, blood vessel opening was accomplished in three of these patients. Papademetriou expects that results of future clinical trials will be better because the catheter has been redesigned to be operated continuously over a guide wire when the laser is on. Because the catheter is now more flexible, it is more easily navigated through twisted vessels, he added. (SOURCE: Stroke: Reuters Health News: May 2004.)