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Lawrence Wechsler, M.D.


UPMC Studying New High Pressure Water Jet Treatment for Stroke Patients

PITTSBURGH, June 27, 2000 — Physicians at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Stroke Institute are participating in a multi-center research study to test an experimental device for treatment of acute stroke that may be quicker and safer than using clot-busting drugs. The experimental treatment uses pressurized saline moving at 300 mph to break up clots in the brain, vacuum away the debris and restore blood flow to the brain.

"The goal of the use of this experimental device is to open the blood vessel and quickly restore blood flow to the region of the stroke and restore function. It may be possible to remove the blood clot within minutes instead of the 30 to 90 minutes needed for infusion of the clot-busting drug TPA," said Lawrence Wechsler, M.D., professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, director of the Stroke Institute and local principal investigator in the study. "The faster we can restore blood supply to the affected area of the brain, the less damage the stroke will cause."

Called the Thrombectomy In Middle Cerebral Artery Embolism Study 1 (TIME 1), it uses a device called the Angiojet Rheolytic Thrombectomy System made by Possis Medical, Inc.

"We can use this experimental treatment up to six hours after the patient has a stroke compared to intravenous TPA treatment, which only has a three-hour window of opportunity," Dr. Wechsler said.

Patients who are having a stroke and are brought to UPMC Presbyterian Emergency Department first undergo a CT scan to exclude bleeding as the cause of the stroke. Once it is determined that the patient is an appropriate candidate for the experimental treatment, the Angiojet is threaded from the leg artery to the site of the clot in the brain. The Angiojet is then activated to break up the clot and remove the residue. A diagnostic angiogram is then performed after the procedure to confirm dissolution of the clot. Patients may also receive TPA to dissolve any remaining pieces of the clot.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of serious, long-term disability in adults. According to the American Heart Association, 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke every year. On average, someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 53 seconds and 160,000 Americans die each year from stroke.

The phase one, multi-center study will be conducted at six locations throughout the United States and include 30 patients; five will be enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The Angiojet is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in breaking up and removing clots in coronary arteries, leg arteries and dialysis access grafts. It is not as yet approved for use in stroke patients. The study is sponsored by Possis Medical, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn.

The UPMC Stroke Institute is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of stroke. At the institute, UPMC doctors with a wide variety of specialties join together to offer the very latest techniques of stroke diagnosis and treatment. Multispecialty care allows institute physicians to treat stroke patients and patients at risk of stroke who also suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses. Institute physicians also participate in clinical studies of new stroke treatments that promise to limit or prevent stroke disability.

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