A Stoke hospital has reached a significant milestone in delivering a life-saving stroke treatment.
In 2023, staff at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) treated 200 people with mechanical stroke thrombectomy - the most ever and four times the number treated when the service launched in 2009.
Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent is one of only two sites in the UK that has a 24/7 dedicated mechanical stroke thrombectomy team.
Dr Sanjeev Nayak, consultant interventional neuroradiologist at UHNM, said: “We were the first hospital in the UK to provide a 24/7 mechanical thrombectomy service and UHNM has been at the forefront of pioneering the procedure nationally ever since.
“When we first started the service we had to select patients on a case by case basis but over time we’ve seen outstanding outcomes for patients increase thanks to positive results of new technology including imaging and improved ways of working. Advancements in imaging has meant an increase of referrals to our service from surrounding hospital trusts.”
Mechanical thrombectomy involves carefully removing blood clots from deep in a patient’s brain, using a three-foot-long wire. A stent at the end of the wire envelopes the clot and pulls it out, allowing blood to flow freely to the brain. However, the treatment is only effective in a certain number of patients, and in most cases patients need to be seen in under 12 hours.
The treatment isn’t available to all stroke patients, but it has reduced the mortality risk in severe stroke patients from 50 per cent to 17 per cent.
In 2018, UHNM also started utilising AI to improve the service.
Dr Nayak said: “The use of AI enables us to see how much of the brain has been impacted by a stroke based on scan results. We can quickly see where any blockage is as well as what the vessels look like.
“But whilst AI has helped speed up the process, the real success is down to our massive team of stroke physicians, radiographers, anaesthetists, physiotherapists and nurses to name but a few, I am proud of all their efforts, enthusiasm and commitment.
“The team also runs training courses to stroke teams in surrounding trusts on better identifying vessel blockages so they can pick up cases earlier and refer them to us.”
Peter Hooper, aged 60, from North Wales underwent the procedure in 2023, after suffering a major stroke at home.
“I was in theatre within two or three hours of my stroke and was discharged back home the next day. I walked off the ward and first thing Tuesday morning I was opening the back door again to let the dogs out, its quite remarkable.
“The care at UHNM was fantastic from the consultants down to the cleaning staff. I was lucky I got taken to the right place. I don’t remember much about the Sunday but the Monday, the day after my stroke, there were physios, nurses and consultants in and out of my room- they had me walking up and down the stairs by late Monday morning. I owe the team at UHNM a lot. If I wasn’t able to have the thrombectomy in the window I managed to get it, I probably would be bed-bound and severely disabled and I’m back to doing most of the things I was before.”
Peter has stayed in touch with Dr Indira Natarajan as both are keen runners. Peter has since returned to running and was able to compete in a race in the Peak District in the autumn.