Three Ascension hospitals were among 31 that participated in a groundbreaking global study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, led by Dr. Amrou Sarraj and sponsored by University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in collaboration with Stryker Neurovascular and The University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston, examined patient selection criteria for thrombectomy procedures following acute ischemic stroke. Ascension was one of the largest multistate health systems to take part in the study, with participating sites in Wisconsin, Texas and Indiana.
An ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, occurring when a blood clot blocks or narrows an artery leading to the brain. Thrombectomy is a procedure in which highly specialized physicians use devices to remove the blood clot from the obstructed artery and restore blood flow to the brain.
The study followed 352 patients across six countries with the most severe type of strokes; participants were randomly assigned to receive either mechanical thrombectomy or usual stroke care and found that those receiving thrombectomy had significantly better clinical outcomes, including functional independence, after three months. Rates of death did not differ between the groups, though in some cases thrombectomy was associated with vascular complications.
Each year, more than 795,000 people suffer strokes in the U.S. This study is expected to help expand access for revascularization treatments for patients with severe strokes who may already have signs of brain swelling. Previously the effectiveness of the procedure was not clear in such cases, which may have kept patients with larger strokes from receiving thrombectomy therapy.
With a total of 19 patients who participated in the trial, Ascension was one of the highest enrolling health systems involved in the study, providing a critical patient population with improved access to an innovative treatment. Daniel Gibson, MD, chair of Ascension’s Neuroscience Service Line was the principal investigator for the study at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee; Steven Warach, MD, PhD, served as the principal investigator for the study at Dell Seton Medical Center, part of Ascension in Austin; and Daniel Sahlein, MD, served as the principal investigator for the study at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.
“At Ascension, we are committed to advancing quality care through research and innovation. Clinical trials are a fundamental way to achieve this and help drive insights to advance care excellence and improve patient outcomes,” said Richard Fogel, MD, FACC, FHRS, Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Ascension. “Strokes are, unfortunately, a common occurrence, and the findings of this study have the potential to transform stroke care and positively impact many lives.”
Dr. Gibson believes this study will have a momentous impact on stroke intervention around the world and advance procedures across Ascension hospitals and sites of care.
“The results of the study demonstrate that even patients with the most severe type of stroke may still experience positive health outcomes from revascularization procedures like thrombectomy. Ascension is proud to be part of this advancement and we welcome the opportunity to use this newfound knowledge to improve the health of the communities we are privileged to serve,” Gibson said.
Ascension remains committed to growing its national research capabilities while leveraging its more than 2,600 sites of care across 19 states to advance care for all.
“This trial demonstrates Ascension’s potential to contribute to clinical science,” said Frederick Masoudi, MD, MSPH, MACC, FAHA, Chief Science Officer and Vice President of Research and Analytics, Ascension. “In building a national clinical trials network, we are enhancing our ability to generate new insights to improve patient care and outcomes.”
The findings of this study were presented by Dr. Sarraj at the 2023 International Stroke Conference in Dallas on Feb. 10, 2023.