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Stroke surgery nix.

A surgical technique that purportedly reduces the risk of stroke is of no value, according to a group of researchers.

The procedure, called extracranial-intracranial arterial (EC/IC) bypass, sounds like a logical solution: Since many strokes are caused by a narrowing and eventual closing down of arteries feeding the brain, why not find another route to serve the brain tissue?

In 1967 a European surgeon devised a procedure in which an artery on the scalp is attached to an artery on the brain, to bypass a partial or total blockage. Each year in the United States this operation is done on 3,000 to 5,000 people who have had, or are at high risk of, stroke. It costs about $15,000.

In the new study, researchers led by H.J.M. Barnett of University Hospital in London, Ontario, looked at 1,377 people who had recently had strokes or had signs of impending strokes. They randomly assigned 714 to get standard medical care and 663 to get EC/IC bypasses. The group that had the surgery subsequently had a slightly higher rate of stroke and death than the control group, according to the study, which appeared in the Nov. 7 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

"The study has answered an important question," says Michael D. Walker of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md., which funded the study. "But it has raised another: Why doesn't the procedure work?"
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Title Annotation:extracranial-intracranial arterial bypass found to be of no value in reducing risk of stroke
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 16, 1985
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