Throughout his career Dr. Ahuja has participated in numerous clinical trials involving the latest techniques for neurosurgery, spine surgery and endovascular treatments. This is consistent with his goal to consistently provide state-of-the-art care to his patients.
As just one example of Dr. Ahuja’s drive to provide the best possible patient outcomes, in 1996 Dr. Ahuja was the fourth-largest participant in the nation of the PROACT II trial. This breakthrough trial tested a new medication combination for treating stroke.
Dr. Ahuja and his fellow participants found that the new medication, recombinant prourokinase, when combined with heparin, significantly improved clinical outcomes for patients suffering from stroke.
How do Research Trials Work?
Dr. Ahuja is always adding and evaluating new clinical research trials. Eligibility requirements for patients vary from study to study. Many trials are randomized so that some patients receive a placebo substance or treatment while others receive the investigational treatment.
The study sponsor often pays the expenses for treatments that are associated with the trial. Routine medical costs are billed to insurance.
Research trials can focus on a number of conditions including stroke, brain tumors and spine surgery.
Here is background on some of the research trials that Dr. Ahuja has participated in in the past.
Dr. Ahuja’s Participation in Past Research Trials
In this trial insulin infusion therapy was administered up to twelve hours after stroke symptoms first presented. This trial was very similar to the POINT trial described below, however, the SHINE trial was specifically geared for patients with diabetes. This is consistent with Dr. Ahuja’s goal of providing the best possible care to all patients, taking into consideration all pre-existing conditions.
In the CREST trial run by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Ahuja was able to help show that treating patients with stenting was just as effective in treating carotid artery stenosis (a narrowing of the artery due to plaque) as a more invasive surgery called an endarterectomy. The stenting procedure does not involve surgery; Dr. Ahuja simply threads a flexible catheter up through the blood vessels and deploys a wire mesh stent that props the blood vessel open.
Traditionally, spinal problems such as a narrowing of the spinal canal and compression on nerve roots involving multiple vertebrae have been treated by a surgery called spinal fusion. In 2007 Dr. Ahuja participated in a clinical trial that tested a Total Facet Arthroplasty System. This surgical technique replaces the diseased facet joints that connect the vertebrae, eliminating the need for spinal fusion.
In 2004 Dr. Ahuja participated in a field-changing study to treat carotid artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries due to plaque) through angioplasty. Angioplasty is a technique in which a flexible catheter is threaded through the blood vessels and the narrowing is opened up with a small balloon. Traditionally, carotid stenosis had been treated by removing the plaque surgically, which is more invasive than angioplasty. This study, known as SAPPHIRE, was very successful and showed that angioplasty was just as effective as surgery for treating carotid stenosis in high-risk patients.
Dr. Ahuja was involved in pioneering initial trials using Guglielmi detachable coils for treating aneurysms. These trials led to the FDA approval of this now-standard treatment for aneurysms.
Dr. Ahuja also participated in the POINT trial, which was a trial testing the effectiveness of the medication clopidogrel in treating stroke. Clopidogrel could be given up to twelve hours after stroke symptoms presented, which was a time window four times larger than the medication treatments commonly available at the time.
In 2008 the drugs Ancrod and Alfimeprase, both of which are derived from snake venom, were used by Dr. Ahuja to treat patients who arrived at the hospital more than three hours after their stroke. This is typically the cut-off for traditional stroke treatment. These drugs allow Dr. Ahuja to treat patients up to six hours after their stroke, a crucial advancement. Although a drug derived from snake venom seems unconventional, it is one of the many examples of Dr. Ahuja trying all means necessary to improve his patients’ outcomes.
Dr. Ahuja took part in a clinical trial investigating the 90-day outcomes for stroke patients who were treated with NXY-059, a drug that helps protect the nervous system. Stroke patients who were treated with NXY-059 experienced significantly reduced disability.
Dr. Ahuja was the fourth-largest participant in the nation of the PROACT II trial, which tested a new medication combination for treating stroke. In this breakthrough trial, Dr. Ahuja and the other principal investigators found that when combined with heparin a new medication called recombinant prourokinase significantly improved clinical outcomes for stroke patients. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and has revolutionized stroke treatment.