Background and purpose: Different strategies have been employed to recanalize acutely occluded middle cerebral and internal carotid arteries (ICA) in the setting of acute stroke including intravenous and intra-arterial tPA. However, pharmaceutical thrombolysis alone, may not be effective in patients with a large amount of clot volume (complete M1, terminal internal carotid artery). We report our initial experience with endovascular clot disruption using a soft silicone balloon in addition to intravenous or intra-arterial thrombolysis with tPA.
Methods: This is a retrospective review of nine patients with symptoms of acute stroke from clot in the middle cerebral or internal carotid territories who were treated with intracranial balloon angioplasty. All patients presented with symptoms of acute anterior circulation stroke less than six hours from onset. Patients in whom computed tomography (CT) angiography confirmed the presence of large vessel clot (terminal ICA, M1 or proximal M2) were included in the study. A CT perfusion was performed providing maps of cerebral blood volume, flow and mean transit time. If the patient presented less than three hours from onset then intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) was also administered. Intra-arterial tPA was delivered into the clot. If the volume of clot was judged to be significant by the treating neurointerventionist, then a limited trial of tPA was administered intra-arterially followed by balloon angioplasty of persistant clot. The time from imaging to vessel recanalization was recorded. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the modified Rankin scale and Barthel Index.
Results: Diagnostic CT perfusion studies were performed in 7 (78%), all of which showed a significant amount of salvageable tissue as judged by the treating neurointerventionist and neurologist. Recanalization (TIMI 2 or 3) was possible in 8 (89%). There were no cases of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage and 2 (22%) asymptomatic hemorrhages. The average time from performance of the initial emergency CT to vessel recanalization was 2.1 hours with mean time from symptom onset to vessel recanalization of 4.1 hours. Five (56%) patients had good outcomes, 1 (11%) had mild and 3 (33%) had moderate to severe disability.
Conclusion: Clot angioplasty can potentially shorten recanalization times in well-selected patients and can be an effective complimentary procedure in patients with tPA resistant clot. Angioplasty can be performed with a very low complication rate using the technique described and may be associated with good outcomes.