Anders Anglesey looks into a ‘game-changing’ stroke treatment that could give patients a greater chance of making a strong recovery, which started in south London and is now being rolled out across the country.
My father did not recognise me the last time I saw him. He had been bedridden for the best part of four weeks, unable to move the right side of his body and could not carry out basic tasks such as swallowing food or independently visit the toilet.
It was heart breaking to see a man who had been so fiercely independent being reduced to almost infant-like dependency. I kissed his forehead and told him I loved him. He died two days later, holding my brother’s hand.
When he was first admitted to hospital he was given a thrombolytic, commonly called a clot buster, which aims to break-up the cause of the blockage in a blood vessel and restore flow to the brain. Unfortunately the drug, fed through an IV tube, failed.
This is not uncommon, according to Dr Jeremy Madigan, consultant diagnostic and interventional at St George’s hospital, in Tooting, about 70 per cent of patients fail to benefit fully from the drug.
But the hospital has pioneered the ‘mechanical thrombectomy’ treatment that provides an 80 to 90 per cent chance of clearing the blockage, which will be rolled out to all 24 NHS neurology centres in England. During treatment a small tube is inserted into an artery in the groin and is manoeuvred towards the brain. When it reaches the clot it either sucks it into the tube or pulls it out using a wire.
The acute stroke unit at St George’s was the first in the UK to have a fully staffed, around the clock, thrombectomy service and administers…
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