If you have an ischemic stroke (stroke caused by a blood clot in your brain) doctors can sometimes do a procedure called a thrombectomy to remove the clot.
A doctor threads a catheter (thin, hollow tube) through an artery in your groin up to your brain. Once the catheter is in place, the doctor uses a tiny mechanical device to break up or remove the clot. This can be a tiny suction cup, fluid jet or other device.
An endovascular thrombectomy is the removal of a thrombus (blood clot) under image guidance. A thrombectomy is most commonly performed for an arterial embolism, which is an arterial blockage often caused by atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder. An arterial embolism causes acute limb ischaemia (restricted blood supply) which leads to pain in the affected area. A thrombectomy can also be used to treat conditions in your organs, such as in your liver or kidney.
Your doctor may recommend that you have a thrombectomy as a treatment for stroke or for mesenteric ischaemia, where the blood flow in your small intestine is restricted due to inflammation or injury.
The interventional radiologist will insert a 3 mm plastic tube (called a sheath) into the base of your skull or your groin. They will guide the sheath to the blood clot.
There are a number of different techniques for this procedure. The blood clot can be removed using a vacuum to suck the thrombus out, or mechanical equipment to break up the clot, or with clot using saline jets or ultrasound waves.