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Thrombectomy

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.

Endovascular Thrombectomy

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.

How does the procedure work?

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.