The University of Texas Medical Branch offers a new minimally invasive procedure to remove blood clots that has been shown to help patients better recover from a stroke. The procedure is available in only about half of the advanced stroke centers in the U.S., and UTMB is the only stroke facility in Galveston County that offers this procedure.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the procedure, called an intra-arterial treatment, is significantly more effective than intravenous drugs that dissolve clots.

The study, conducted in the Netherlands, found that the procedure was about twice as likely to restore mobility and functional independence compared to the clot-breaking drugs. In fact, the results were so promising that four clinical trials of the procedure being conducted across the globe, including the U.S., were halted. Interim results of the trials that were stopped also were very positive.

“At UTMB, we have seen how using intra-arterial treatment can change the course of a patient’s life for the better,” said Dr.Venkata Dandamudi, assistant professor of neurology, neurosurgery and radiology. “With intra-arterial treatment like stent based clot retrieval and suction-based catheter treatment, more patients are able to not only survive the stroke, but maintain their mobility and independence as well.

“Despite being the No. 1 one cause of long-term adult disability, stroke is one of the most undertreated and devastating diseases in U.S. and the world,” Dandamudi said. “With this study, we now have the evidence we need to ensure that every stroke patient who suffers a severe stroke is evaluated for intra-arterial treatment in addition to clot-breaking drugs.”

Dr. Anish Bhardwaj, chairman of the department of neurology, said that “UTMB is growing rapidly as a state-of-the-art stroke care center with collaborative teams of experts in neurology, neurosurgery, neuro-interventional and neuro critical care. We offer comprehensive long-term care of patients with a multidisciplinary team approach. Our physicians, specially trained nurses and physician assistants, case managers, social workers, nutritionists, pharmacists and physical therapists are fully focused on creating great outcomes for our patients who suffer this devastating disease.”