A new procedure to help people in the crucial first hours after they have suffered strokes may soon be the standard of care, according to an Oregon Health and Science researcher who contributed to a study released Friday.

Traditionally, victims of strokes - which involves clots blocking the flow of blood to the brain - are treated with a corkscrew-like device that is twisted into the clot and gently pulled out. The new procedure opens the blocked artery by inserting into the brain a small mesh stent made of platinum and titanium. The stent expands the interior walls of the artery and allows blood to get to the patient's brain. The clot is captured by the sent and after a few minutes the stent and clot are removed together.

A study of the new procedure was presented this morning at a medical conference in New Orleans. The study involved more than 140 stroke patients at 18 medical centers throughout the U.S., 35 of whom were treated at OHSU.

The new stent procedure appeared more effective than a traditional device, according to the study. More than half the patients treated with the stent were classified as having 'excellent neurological outcomes.'

Only one in three with the corkscrew procedure earned that designation.

In addition, 17 percent of the patients treated with the stent died, compared to 38 percent treated with the traditional device.

Wayne Clark, director of the Oregon Stroke Center at OHSU and a co-author of the study, says Covidien, which manufactures the stent and funded the study, is applying for approval of the device from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

'I really think this is going to be a game changer,' Clark says.

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