Background and purpose: Endovascular treatment for intracranial atherosclerosis is evolving, but complications remain an issue. Most interventions are performed under general anesthesia, preventing intraprocedural clinical evaluations. We describe our approach to intracranial angioplasty and stenting, using local rather than general anesthesia, and intraprocedural neurological assessment.
Methods: We prospectively collected procedural and outcome information on all patients undergoing intracranial angioplasty and stenting. Patients underwent interventions under local anesthesia with mild intravenous sedation or analgesia only if needed. Intraoperative neurological evaluations were performed, and symptomatology was used to guide the interventional technique.
Results: Forty-eight arteries in 40 patients with a mean age of 65.2 years were treated. Thirty-two anterior and 16 posterior circulation segments were treated. Technical success was achieved in 100% of patients with reduction of the mean pretreatment stenosis from 85 +/- 8.6% to 7 +/- 10.1%. Stents were deployed in 40 segments; five patients were treated with drug-eluting stents. The cobalt-chromium coronary stents were the easiest to deliver. Thirty-seven patients were treated under local anesthesia and, of those, 61.4% experienced intraprocedural symptoms that led to some alteration of the interventional technique. Headache was the most common symptom, and, when persistent, it heralded the occurrence of subarachnoid hemorrhage. There were seven total neurological complications, but only five (10.5%) led to permanent morbidity (4 strokes) or mortality (1 death).
Conclusions: Intracranial angioplasty and stenting can be successfully performed using coronary techniques and equipment including drug-eluting stents. Local anesthesia permits neurological evaluations and often leads to the adjustment of the interventional technique, potentially making the procedure safer.