DOCTORS in Southampton have reversed a procedure developed to stem bleeding in the brain to help them save the lives of seriously ill stroke patients.

The innovation at Southampton General Hospital reverses a technique used for patients suffering with ruptured brain aneurysms to remove blood clots without the need for potentially dangerous surgery.

Conventionally, stroke patients are treated with blood-thinning drugs through a drip within the first three hours of the onset of their symptoms.

However, this option is not always successful for those with blockages in large vessels or suitable for those recovering from major surgery, as it puts them at risk of internal bleeding.

Dr John Millar, a consultant neuroradiologist at Southampton General, said: “Employing a procedure developed to treat ruptured brain aneurysms, we are able to open blocked vessels that cause severe strokes – something much more common than bleeding in the brain.

“Once we locate the blocked vessel, we pass a small metal stent through a micro-catheter, immediately open it and use the same device to remove the clot.”