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New Device May Limit Stroke Damage

Experimental 'Corkscrew' Device May Reverse Stroke Damage
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Device Not a 'Cure-All'

Although Starkman is enthusiastic about the device, he says its real advantage might be when it is used in combination with clot-busting drugs. Drugs like tPA carry a significant risk for bleeding in the brain. "This combination approach would allow us to use lower levels of tPA, which would reduce the risk of bleeding," he says. And used together, he says it is likely that the results will be better than either device or clot buster by alone.

But Larry Goldstein, MD, professor of neurology and director of the Duke University Medical Center, says the device is not a cure-all for stroke. "First, you have to be able to see the clot," he says. Neurologists use special brain scans to find clots in the brain. He estimated that only about half of ischemic stroke patients have clots that can be "seen" using this imaging technology.

Moreover, even if the clot can be seen, "it has to be in a location where you can get at it," Goldstein says. Many clots are located in arteries that are not accessible by catheter technology. Additionally, Mayberg tells WebMD that even if the device is approved, its use will be limited to comprehensive stroke centers "where a neurosurgeon, an interventional radiologist, stroke neurologists are available 24-hours a day."

The FDA's Neurovascular Devices Advisory Panel is slated to review the device at a meeting Feb. 23. The panel will then make a recommendation to the FDA.

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