discoveries magazine

Wingspan Spreads

A specialized stenting system used to open blocked arteries in the brain could change how we treat strokes.

Intracranial stenosis —a narrowing of brain arteries caused by the buildup and hardening of fatty deposits—can lead to strokes. Blood thinners, cholesterol lowering drugs, and blood pressure medications can help, but the narrowed arteries still pose a risk.

To treat patients failing medical therapy, investigators tested a different approach—the Stryker Wingspan Stent System—in a national trial. They found low complication rates among patients with stroke histories. The system has since been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

"These trial results have the potential to change how stroke patients are treated in the future," says Michael Alexander, MD, the study's principal investigator and director of the Cedars-Sinai Neurovascular Center. "Using approved stents in brain arteries may give new hope to patients suffering from stroke due to blockages from cholesterol plaque."

Disclosure: Alexander has served as a consultant for Stryker and has been paid for these services.