Objective: Patients with intracranial atherosclerosis who fail antithrombotic therapy have a poor prognosis. The high rate of recurrent stroke warrants testing alternative treatments such as intracranial angioplasty.
Methods: We present our experience in the treatment of 104 patients (age range, 54-82 years; mean age, 67 years) with symptomatic intracranial atherosclerotic stenoses despite medical therapy who underwent stent-assisted angioplasty. Patient records were retrospectively analysed for location and degree of stenosis, regimen of antiplatelet agents, devices used, procedure-related complications and adverse events. Clinical (Modified Rankin Scale) and radiographic outcomes were obtained 24 hours, 1 month and 3-6 months after treatment. Sixty-five lesions (62.5%) were located in the posterior circulation. Mean stenosis was 75.4%.
Results: In all patients, the angiographic degree of stenosis was reduced to less than 30%. One stent was implanted in 66 patients (63%), and two or more in 38 patients (37%). Modified Rankin Scale (mR) was 1-2 in 67.5% of the cases, 3-4 in 25.9%, 5 in 2.8%, 6 in 3.8%. Procedural morbidity was 5.7% and procedural mortality was 3.8%. Angiographic follow-up was available in 58 patients (55.7%) and the restenosis rate was 12.5%.
Discussion: In selected patients, endovascular revascularization of intracranial arteries by means of stent-assisted angioplasty is technically feasible, effective and safe.