Blood clot remover

Stroke patients could soon benefit from a device that claims to safely remove blood clots without damaging the surrounding vessels.

Developed by Dr Gilian Pearce and Rev Neil Perkinson at Wolverhampton University, the GP Mechanical Thrombectomy Device (MTD) has been designed to remove clots that arise during thromboembolic strokes.

Pearce said: ‘Around 85 per cent of all strokes arise by clots in an artery. Many of them occur in a vessel in the middle cerebral artery, which is about 3mm wide.

‘The current treatment involves a drug called tPA (alteplase), which is given as an IV infusion. However, this carries a risk of bleeding and cannot be used on people who fall in certain categories. For instance, it is only licensed for use by people below the age of 80 and can only be used three hours post-stroke.’

Pearce’s alternative mechanical extraction device can be used up to eight hours following a stroke, significantly improving the chances of survival for patients undergoing treatment.

The device is attached to the end of a catheter that is fed into the arterial system and positioned within one to three millimetres from the clot. Suction is then applied to generate a vortex in the fluid between the tip of the catheter and the clot. That vortex gently removes the clot, which is then transferred to the interior of the device.

Pearce added: ‘The beauty of this is that the device doesn’t need to touch the clot to remove it, meaning there’s less risk of downstream embolisation. We can also make the device fit any size artery where the clot has formed. We can use it in the heart for example, or it can also be used in the peripheral vascular system to remove clots in the leg.’

The device has been patented in the US, China, Japan and 35 European countries. Initial testing in a lab environment has proved successful and Pearce is hopeful of beginning clinical trials in the near future.

Ellie Zolfagharifard