Those in the tPA group had a quicker recovery and went home from the hospital an average of 38 days sooner than those in the standard-therapy group, resulting in estimated health care cost savings of $44,000 per patient, according to the study.
"This is the most promising treatment that has come along in the last 30 or 40 years for people who have suffered hemorrhagic stroke," study leader Dr. Daniel Hanley, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, said in a university news release.
Hanley said the next step is to conduct a larger study of 500 patients in order to confirm the benefits of the tPA therapy.
For his part, Langer said he was cautiously optimistic about the therapy. "More work will be needed to fully understand the effects of these powerful drugs," he said, "but this preliminary work represents real progress in the development of safer treatment and management of these critically ill patients."
Another expert agreed.
"Up to now, hemorrhages deep in the brain have been hard to treat because surgery necessarily damages normal tissue to get to the blood clot," said Dr. Louis Cornacchia, director of neurosurgery at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, in New York City. But the new catheter-based technique "not only allows more of the clot to be removed but also results in better outcomes for patients."
Cornacchia agreed that further, larger trials are needed to confirm the results. "However, if this study is validated, it will point the way to a standardized treatment of a common, very stubborn medical problem," he said.
The findings were scheduled for presentation Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Stroke Association in Honolulu. The study also will be published simultaneously in the journal Stroke.
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