July 29 (UPI) -- A catheter-based method of clot removal treatment is continuing to show success in getting stroke victims back to normal, new research shows.
Endovascular thrombectomy helped 31 percent of stroke patients regained functional independence, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Neurology. Those findings are compared to only 14 percent who returned to normal through medical management.
"It is unclear now if thrombectomy is safe and efficacious in patients with a large ischemic core stroke. Treating physicians face a dilemma on whether to intervene in these patients," Amrou Sarraj, a researcher at The University of Texas and study first author, said in a news release.
Endovascular thrombectomy uses a small catheter which runs through an artery, and through the body, to remove the blood clot.
During a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate the procedure, researchers recruited 105 patients with large ischemic cores from nine comprehensive stroke centers throughout the United States. Along with helping patients who had larger ischemic strokes regain their independence, the procedure reduced the death risk to 29 percent compared to 42 percent for normal medical management.
An ischemic stroke blocks oxygen from traveling to brain tissue by restricting blood flow within the cerebral artery. The ischemic core is the location of cell death that results during the blockage.
Past research has shown removing brain clots immediately after surgery can improve results for stroke victims.
Each year, nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke, with someone dying every four minutes from the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Next, the researchers will launch a Phase III trial in August, which will include 560 patients from 30 comprehensive stroke centers in the United States, Canada and Europe.
"Our results represent very good preliminary data that thrombectomy may be safe and efficacious in this population. It's time to test those results in a randomized trial," Sarraj said.