A device that could be used as a vascular vacuum cleaner may offer a new way to treat stroke. The FDA has approved a catheter called Penumbra for extracting blood clots from blood vessels in the brain. If stroke patients arrive early enough, the chance of effective treatment is much greater.
The first line of treatment for a thrombotic stroke is a clot-busting drug called tPA. If that doesn’t work well enough, the Penumbra catheter may undo the damage before it becomes irreversible. Using a catheter is less invasive and faster than traditional brain surgery. Because prompt treatment is so critical, the catheter may offer advantages for certain patients.