Objective: Abciximab, a platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitor, has been shown to reduce the risk of ischemic events associated with coronary intervention. However, its role in neurointerventional procedures needs to be defined. We prospectively evaluated our initial experience with the use of abciximab in a series of high-risk patients undergoing carotid, basilar, or vertebral artery angioplasty.
Methods: Patients were given an intravenous abciximab bolus (0.25 mg/kg), followed by infusion (10 microg/min) for a period ranging from 12 to 24 hours, as an adjunct to angioplasty in 20 procedures (19 patients). These patients were considered to be at high risk for thromboembolic events because of recent ischemic symptoms and/or complex lesion morphology. Before, immediately after, and 24 hours after the procedure, each patient was evaluated by a neurologist for the presence of new neurological deficits. Any bleeding or other complications during hospitalization were also recorded. Bleeding was defined as major (hemoglobin decrease >5 g/dl), minor (hemoglobin decrease 3-5 g/dl), or insignificant.
Results: Angioplasty was performed in the internal carotid artery (n = 13), vertebral artery (n = 4), or basilar artery (n = 2). Stents were placed across 13 lesions. In one patient, angioplasty could not be performed owing to technical difficulties; however, abciximab was administered because of extensive lesion manipulation. Intraprocedural heparin was given in 19 procedures (35-86 U/kg intravenously) and partially reversed in 6 procedures. Low-dose intra-arterial thrombolytic agents were administered in seven patients before the lesion was crossed. Two patients experienced transient neurological deficits either during (n = 1) or immediately after (n = 1) the procedure. Another patient had complete occlusion of the right vertebral artery after angioplasty with complete recanalization after 24 hours of abciximab infusion. Major or minor bleeding was not observed in any patient. Insignificant bleeding was observed in eight patients. Thrombocytopenia was observed in one patient who received concomitant administration of intravenous heparin and abciximab infusion.
Conclusion: We observed a low frequency of neurological events in high-risk patients undergoing angioplasty with or without stent placement. Abciximab seems to be a relatively safe adjunct for carotid or vertebrobasilar endovascular intervention either alone or in combination with low-dose thrombolytics. Partial reversal of intraprocedural heparin should be considered to reduce the risk of postprocedural bleeding.