New procedure removes blood clot in 10 minutes, a world’s first

Dr Mayich

August 17, 2022

A patient at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is the world’s first to benefit from a new medical device developed to treat stroke by rapidly removing the offending blood clot in 10 minutes, ultimately reversing the symptoms of stroke and preventing permanent damage to the brain. 

As a research-intensive teaching hospital, LHSC is committed to finding and developing innovative health care solutions to treat patients for a variety of emergency conditions, including stroke. On June 24, 2022, Dr. Michael Mayich and his team used a new device called a balloon distal access catheter (BDAC) to successfully remove a blood clot from an artery in the brain of Wilene Leyen. The procedure was performed through a tiny incision over the right hip and took less than 10 minutes, reconstituting blood flow to a large part of the brain and restoring Ms. Leyen’s movement and speech almost immediately. 

Balloon Distal Access Catheter (BDAC)

“Performing more than 200 emergency stroke surgeries each year, our team at LHSC knows the importance of identifying strokes and acting quickly,” said Dr. Michael Mayich, an Interventional Neuroradiologist at LHSC. “When a blood clot is causing a stroke, over 2 million brain cells can be lost each minute, so seconds count. By locating and removing the clot in a shorter period of time, the patient has a higher probability of regaining mobility and speech. This device offers the possibility of removing clots in fewer attempts, shortening the procedure and maximizing the chances of good outcomes for our patients”. 

Mechanical thrombectomy is a new minimally invasive treatment for strokes caused by blood clots which block blood flow to the brain. It is performed by a specialized team which includes neuroradiologists, stroke neurologists, neurosurgeons, imaging technologists and anesthesiologists who are on-call 24-7 to provide this emergency service. LHSC was the first hospital in the world to use the BDAC to treat a patient experiencing a stroke. 

The device uses a balloon to temporarily halt flow in a vessel while suction is applied to remove clots causing the stroke and restoring flow to the endangered part of the brain. The Health Canada approved device was developed by Vena Medical, based in Kitchener-Waterloo and has since been used to treat stroke patients at The Ottawa Hospital. “The LHSC stroke team has given me my life back,” said Wilene Leyen. “I can do almost everything I was able to do before I suffered the stroke and I’m very grateful Dr. Mayich was able to perform this procedure.”

Wilene Leyen