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Vital stroke service opens six days a week

Addenbrooke's has expanded its stroke service to provide a potentially life-changing procedure - a mechanical thrombectomy - to patients from across the East of England, six days a week.

Stroke image
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Performing mechanical thrombectomy in CUH will allow patients in our region to be treated much sooner, which has been shown to reduce disability.

Dr Yogish Joshi

Mechanical thrombectomy is used to treat some ischaemic stroke patients and can significantly reduce long-term disability in people with severe strokes.

Ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke caused by a blood clot cutting off blood flow to part of the brain.

The procedure involves using a specially-designed clot removal device inserted through a catheter to pull or suck out the clot to restore blood flow.

As with clot-busting drugs, a mechanical thrombectomy is most effective the faster it can be carried out following a stroke.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) is now offering this procedure Monday to Saturday between 08:00-16:00.

To enable this, a second angiography suite is under construction and is expected to be completed in the coming weeks by mid-February.

The team continues to progress recruitment of additional staff in stroke medicine, interventional neuroradiology and anaesthesia and will deliver the final phase of implementation of a 24/7 regional service by April 2024.

This exciting development is the culmination of a great deal of hard work for several years across several departments including stroke medicine, radiology, anaesthesia, estates and finance.

Dr Yogish Joshi head and shoulders
Dr Yogish Joshi

Dr Yogish Joshi is an interventional neuro-radiologist a CUH and part of the team who have instigated the new extended service. He said:

"Performing mechanical thrombectomy in CUH will allow patients in our region to be treated much sooner, which has been shown to reduce disability.

"If the service is not available in CUH, patients have to travel to London to have these procedures. We now operate a 6-day daytime service, and will continue to extend this service at CUH to eventually treat all patients at whatever time they have their stroke 24/7."

Mechanical thrombectomy

The procedure is carried out in the radiology department, in a special room called an angiographic suite.

Instead of seeking to break the clot down using drugs, thrombectomy aims to physically remove it.

The minimally invasive technique involves inserting a special device under x-ray guidance into the affected blood vessel.

The clot is either removed with a stent – a tiny cage-like piece of equipment which ‘grabs’ the clot – or it’s sucked out with a special aspiration tube.

When a major brain artery is blocked – as in 10 per cent of strokes – evidence shows that thrombectomy significantly reduces the risk of long-term brain injury, disability and loss of independence.

However, the treatment is only effective in a certain number of patients and with most cases needing to be seen in under 12 hours.