While the name “Stroke System” might suggest it does the stroking, the Penumbra Stroke System actually sucks. No, really! Typically clot-retrieval systems use a small corkscrew-looking barb to grab the consequences of your fried chicken addiction, but the Penumbra system uses suction to grab blood clots in the brain for treatment of acute ischemic stroke.
Rush University Medical Center is one of the first sites in the Midwest with the opportunity to test a new minimally-invasive investigational technique to remove blood clots in large brain vessels that cause acute ischemic stroke.
Current therapy in acute ischemic stroke is often not effective or can be difficult to administer within the short three-hour treatment window. Clot dissolving drugs have a high risk of bleeding complications, open surgery is complex and time consuming, and the first generation of mechanical clot removing devices have demonstrated some limitations.
The Penumbra Stroke System was designed taking into account the many variables and complications that have prevented other devices from working well. Compared with the currently available device which uses a corkscrew-shaped coil to snag the blood clot, the Penumbra uses suction to grab the blood clot and remove it from the body.
“The Penumbra Stroke System has the potential to minimize injury to the blood vessel wall,” said Dr. Demetrius Lopes, a neuroendovascular specialist at Rush. “Instead of piercing the clot to retrieve it, you attack it with suction. We believe we may be able to remove rigid clots that we could not grab with the other mechanical device.”
Penumbra is delivered into the brain using a catheter inserted through a small puncture in the groin. Using x-ray guidance, the device is maneuvered through the blood vessels of the body to the site of the clot in the brain. A separator is advanced and retracted through the catheter to dislodge the clot and a suction device grabs hold of it for removal.
When blood flow resumes, if residual clotting material remains, a balloon catheter is used to temporarily stop the flow of blood in the area and a ring is used to clasp the material and remove it. The device can be used up to eight hours after the onset of stroke.
Cool stuff. It must be no small engineering feat to pull a decent vacuum at the end of a few feet of uber-narrow catheter tubing.
Unfortunately, Penumbra Medical doesn’t have any pictures of the product on their site. In fact, the layout makes it abundantly clear that they’ve been spending their money on engineering and not web design. Sorry for the treatment Penumbra, but the jokes practically write themselves.
[Anyone at Rush or Penumbra reading this? Send us a pic of the device and we’d be happy to post it rather than just the logo. -ed.]