In the study, stents were placed in the blocked brain arteries of 19 patients who had not benefited clot-busting drugs or clot-removal devices.

The study results showed that the stents opened up arteries in 18 of the 19 patients (95%), and 12 patients (63%) had minimal or no deficits and however, five patients (26%), died from major strokes.

Director of endovascular neurosurgery at the Institute Italo Linfante said if stents had not been used to restore blood flow after these serious strokes, mortality or severe disability would have occurred in approximately 80 to 90% of patients.

"Our findings suggest stents can work when clot busting-drugs and clot-removal devices do not, and are a safe and feasible option," Linfante said.

Currently, placing stents to treat acute stroke patients is an experimental procedure, used as a last resort when all other treatments have failed.