Grabbing and removing a clot blocking blood flow to the brain, rather than just administering clot-busting drugs, dramatically improves the likelihood that patients will recover from a stroke, according to two highly-anticipated studies released on Wednesday.

The larger of the studies found that the procedure nearly halved the death rate from stroke.

…The research echoes a large Dutch study published in December, called MR CLEAN, that also found a benefit from fishing a clot out of an artery. Taken together, they offer “a really persuasive signal that we’re on to something,” said Dr. Patrick Lyden, director of the Stroke Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the studies.

Lyden, who helped develop clot-busting drugs, said he had been skeptical of the devices, but called the latest results “tremendous,” adding, “it’s a whole new world for us. Medical centers are going to have to gear up and be able to do this treatment quickly.”

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