Life-saving procedure extended to run round the clock

4 July 2022

An innovative procedure that is saving the lives of stroke patients by physically removing blood clots is now available around the clock at Salford Royal.

The mechanical thrombectomy service for treating patients with acute ischaemic stroke is now available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; meaning even more patients can benefit from the highly specialised procedure.

Ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and is caused by a blood clot blocking an artery of the brain. Mechanical thrombectomy involves navigating a clot removal device through the blood vessels to the site of the blockage and either pulling or aspirating (sucking) out the clot to restore normal blood flow to the brain.

This treatment, when combined with other medical treatments provided within a specialist unit, has been proven to significantly reduce the severity of a disability that a stroke can cause.

Salford Royal, which is part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, is the comprehensive stroke centre for Greater Manchester and is the only centre in Manchester able to perform thrombectomy procedures.

A team of experts – including radiologists, radiographers, nursing and anaesthetic teams – are needed to be able to successfully carry out the treatment, which, if performed up to six hours of the onset of stroke, can save lives and result in better outcomes for patients.

Dr Hannah Stockley, Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist at Salford Royal, said: “This procedure is not only life-saving, but it is life changing. We have some patients who can’t speak or move one side of their body but once we re-open the vessel they may start to recover within a matter of minutes. Although this almost immediate effect doesn’t happen in everyone, overall patients have a better chance of survival, and it is likely to reduce residual disability from a stroke.

“I’m so proud to be part of the team that can now offer this service 24/7 and to give patients the best treatment available.”

Specialist radiology doctors perform the procedure under x-ray guidance, using innovatively designed catheters and stents to pull or suck out the clot with minimally invasive techniques. Highly specialised radiographers, who require additional training of around 10 months, support the teams with precise neurological images, during both the process of diagnosis and subsequent intervention.

For several years this treatment has been available for patients across Greater Manchester but has only been provided 8am-6pm.

Charlotte Smith, Service Lead for Interventional Radiology at Salford Royal, said: “We are offering stroke patients the best opportunity to achieve the most successful outcome for their future recovery. This is a small team of highly specialised clinicians and supporting healthcare professionals who have worked incredibly hard to enable us to be able to extend this service and save even more lives.”

Salford Royal is now one of the few centres outside of London to be able to deliver 24/7 thrombectomy.

Dr Adrian Parry-Jones, Consultant Neurologist at Salford Royal and Clinical Director of the Greater Manchester Integrated Stroke Delivery Network, said: “Mechanical thrombectomy is a highly effective treatment that can greatly increase the chances of a better recovery for patients with major strokes. To now be able to offer this treatment to suitable stroke patients around the clock is a landmark moment for the stroke community in Greater Manchester and a testament to the hard work of all those who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.”

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