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​Mechanical Thrombectomy Using a Stent Retriever

In the past, there was only one proven treatment for ischemic stroke. It was the clot-busting drugs called intravenous (IV) thrombolytics (tPA or TNK).

Thanks to groundbreaking global research in which UPMC played a key role, there’s another treatment: endovascular (mechanical) thrombectomy.

What Is Endovascular Thrombectomy (EVT)?

EVT removes a blood clot from an artery or vein, most often in the brain or heart.

Doctors at UPMC and other centers worldwide recognize EVT's superior ability to remove large clots compared to tPA alone.

This treatment improves outcomes for people who have a stroke.

UPMC neurologists and neurosurgeons are among the most skilled in this pioneering technique, both in the Pittsburgh region and U.S.

What To Expect Before, During, and After EVT

Before EVT, if you arrive early enough, doctors will give you the clot-busting drug through an IV line. 

In addition, stroke doctors use advanced neuroimaging to look at your brain. If there’s a blockage, they’ll perform EVT.  This lets doctors unblock the artery and restore the blood and oxygen to the brain.  

During EVT, your doctor will:

  • Thread a catheter using x-ray guidance into an artery in the groin or the wrist. 
  • Gently push the catheter up into the head and neck area until it reaches the blood clot. 
  • Insert a mesh wire device called a stent retriever into the catheter. The stent reaches past the clot and expands to stretch the walls of the artery so blood can flow. 
  • Retrieve the stent by pulling it backward, helping remove the clot. 

After EVT, you’ll be in the intensive care unit for close monitoring and additional medical treatment. You will also begin the physical therapy journey at this time. 

Benefits of EVT for Stroke Treatment

With IV thrombolytics and other medical treatments, EVT greatly reduces stroke-related disability and death. And this means better results for people who have a stroke.

At UPMC, our specially trained neurologists and neurosurgeons have:

Stroke Resources

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Contact the UPMC Stroke Institute

Phone: 412-232-8840
1350 Locust St., Suite 311
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Complete a UPMC Stroke Institute contact form.