Acute large vessel occlusion stroke mechanical embolectomy


Large vessel occlusions make up over twenty per cent of acute ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot obstructs an artery running to the brain. A blood clot typically forms when too much plaque sticks and hardens to the arterial wall. As a result, the artery leading to the brain becomes narrow, causing less oxygenated blood to reach the brain. This increases your risk of stroke because less oxygen and nutrients mean brain cells are likely to deplete slowly. Treating ischemic stroke early on can prevent complications related to neurological decline, and ultimately, disability.

Why it’s performed

Emergency endovascular surgery to treat ischemic stroke involves access to the inside of the blocked blood vessel. By directly removing a large blood clot when tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) cannot dissolve the clot, we can recircuit blood flow to the brain and prevent rapid cognitive dysfunction.

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Within four to five hours, when symptoms develop, medication can be administered intravenously. An intravenous injection containing tPA is considered the gold standard for ischemic stroke because it dissolves the blood clot completely. However, urgent endovascular surgery can improve recovery and reduce permanent disability after a stroke.

Before considering endovascular surgery, we conduct a CT scan and MRI to determine whether a person suffering from ischemic stroke can benefit from the procedure.


Sometimes when the clot is too large to dissolve, we have to use a stent by means of a catheter to remove the blood clot and restore blood flow to the brain. Imaging studies (CT and MRI scans) make it possible to conduct these procedures safely. Using continuous fluoroscopy, Dr Abelson inserts surgical tools through the femoral artery, which he guides to the blood clot, removing all its contents.

Alternatively, angioplasty and stent placement are surgical procedures to remove plaque, restoring blood supply for healthy brain function. In addition, these surgical procedures are efficient in preventing the formation of blood clots contributing to ischemic stroke.

You won’t feel any pain as the catheter moves through the arteries because the inside has no nerve endings.

  • A special contrast dye moves through the catheter into the carotid artery. A contrast dye highlights the affected carotid artery and its blood flow to the brain on an x-ray.
  • A filter (embolic protective device) is inserted into the carotid artery. A filter is placed further from the blockage to catch debris from the affected area.
  • A surgical balloon is inflated into the carotid artery. A balloon at the edge of the catheter inflates to push plaque against the arterial wall and dilate the vessel.
  • A tube mesh (stent) is inserted into the open vessel. A stent keeps the vessel open and, at times, is coated with a drug to reduce the risk of restenosis.
  • The embolic protective device, small tube, catheter and balloon tip are taken out. Applying pressure at the incision site prevents excessive bleeding.


We closely monitor your condition a day after surgery. Emergency surgery that takes place after a stroke ensures you are able to function independently. The impact of the stroke depends on the area of the brain affected and the amount of tissue damaged. Following a stroke, you have to undergo a strict rehabilitation program to restore movement and sensation.



1Is ischemic stroke reversible?
Ischemic stroke is a severe condition that requires immediate surgical intervention. Surgical intervention can occur through an embolectomy, removal of large blood clots using a stent and catheter or balloon dilation to open a blocked blood vessel and remove plaque. Fortunately, you can return to normal function after prompt treatment.
2Are the effects of ischemic stroke permanent?
Yes, unfortunately, brain cell depletion cannot be reversed. The after-effects of a stroke are devastating, but with a proper rehabilitation program in place, we prevent severe decline and help you get back to your basic, daily functions.
3How does a mechanical embolectomy work?
Minimally invasive surgery such as a mechanical embolectomy is designed to treat a blocked blood vessel by removing an obstruction restricting blood flow to the brain. We work with the latest imaging tools to view the inside of the artery and remove a large blood clot.