A national strategy for mechanical thrombectomy
Acute stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Australia. Patient outcomes following a stroke are often poor, and carry a heavy burden for individuals, their families and the systems providing ongoing health and social support.
Approximately 80-85 per cent of strokes are caused by clots blocking blood vessels in the brain, these are ischaemic strokes.2 Early restoration of blood flow to the brain is critical in the treatment of ischaemic stroke to improve outcomes for patients.
Mechanical thrombectomy, a treatment proven effective in 2015 and pioneered by Australian clinicians, is changing the landscape of stroke treatment globally. Mechanical thrombectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure using specialised retrieval devices, performed under image guidance (angiography), to quickly remove the clot from a patient’s artery and restore blood flow to the brain, preventing further tissue damage. Clinical trials show that it dramatically improves outcomes for ischaemic stroke patients with large vessel occlusion and reduces the significant social and economic cost of this condition.
However, currently, less than 7 per cent of ischaemic stroke patients in Australia receive this treatment, with geographical proximity to a mechanical thrombectomy centre largely determining access.
Access to Mechanical Thrombectomy in Australia sheds light on the urgent need for greater access to this procedure and shows that a national strategy, with federal government leadership, is vital to ensure stroke treatment is available to all Australians when they need it.