A multi-centre team of US researchers has found that balloon-guided catheter surgery can result in better outcomes for patients who have had a stroke due to brain artery blockages than conventional guided catheter procedures.

The study involved researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the Mercy Health Neuroscience Institute of Toledo, the University of Toledo and several other centres. It has been published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery and details how the researchers compared two groups of patients.

Co-author of the study Dr Mohamad Abdalkader said: “Stopping arterial flow is an important step that can improve restoration of blood flow, reduce the number of blood clot emboli to a new area and potentially improve clinical outcome.”

Strokes that are due to a blockage in one of the major brain arteries are referred to as large vessel occlusions (LVO). The typical treatment for LVO is clot retrieval and doctors can use either a balloon-guided catheter or a conventional guided catheter to do this.

During the study, one group of LVO stroke patients underwent treatment with a stent retriever with a balloon-guided catheter. The balloon on the guide catheter temporarily inflates while in the carotid artery to stop blood flow as the clot is being removed. In the second group, LVO patients underwent treatment with a stent retriever using a conventional guide catheter.

Corresponding author Dr Thanh Nguyen said: “When we compared both groups, patients who had balloon-guided catheter had better restoration of blood flow scores and better clinical outcomes.”

Senior author Dr Osama Zaidat said: “Achieving complete or near complete blood flow is the goal to restore strength, language, coordination, reflexes and sensation to patients suffering from ischemic stroke.”

University of Toledo professor and co-author of the study Dr Alicia Castonguay added: “Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that highlights the potential of balloon-guide catheters to improve stroke patient outcomes. Future studies are necessary to fully understand the role of this technology in a larger patient population.”