Mechanical thrombectomy is a minimally invasive surgery in which a catheter is introduced into an artery in order to access the brain which has been blocked by a clot.
What is Mechanical Thrombectomy?
Not All Ischemic Strokes Are the Same
Smaller ischemic strokes that can be treated with an IV clot busting medication do not require mechanical thrombectomy. There are other situations where the artery can’t be accessed, or the risk of the procedure may outweigh the benefit, and these strokes wouldn’t be candidates for thrombectomy.
If the stroke is due to large blood vessel occlusion (LVO), an IV clot busting medication alone is usually not sufficient enough to break the clot. In this case, mechanical thrombectomy is the most effective treatment.
Benefits of Mechanical Thrombectomy
Mechanical thrombectomy has become a game changer in the field of stroke care. This treatment may:
- Restore speech and mobility
- Reverse paralysis
- Ensure a return to a quality of life closer to the patient’s pre-stroke quality of life than without thrombectomy
- Enable patients are able to return as contributors to family and community
- Reduce long-term healthcare costs from long-term disability and adverse effects from stroke complications
Global Access to Thrombectomy
As it is a highly specialized procedure performed by interventional radiologists/neurologists and neurosurgeons trained in the specialty, only a small percentage of hospitals in the US and around the world offer this treatment.
In the US, approximately 12% of people have access to mechanical thrombectomy. An estimated 70 percent of Americans are within 1 hour of a specialized stroke center.
Globally, the number of hospitals offering this treatment is highly variable, and less than 3% of patients worldwide have access. Wealth, availability of hospitals and doctors that treat stroke, and policies that enable professionals to identify strokes as they are happening and triage them accordingly all impact access to thrombectomy. Many cities in under-developed countries do not have even a single thrombectomy center, thereby leaving thousands of stroke victims from receiving this life-saving therapy.