Safety, effectiveness, and practicality of endovascular therapy within the first 3 hours of acute ischemic stroke onset

Neurosurgery. 2009 Nov;65(5):860-5; discussion 865. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000358953.19069.E5.


Objective: This study assesses the safety, effectiveness, and practicality of endovascular therapy for ischemic stroke within the first 3 hours of symptom onset.

Methods: A retrospective chart review (January 2000-July 2008) was performed of 94 consecutive patients who had endovascular therapy within 3 hours after acute ischemic stroke onset. Endovascular therapy was administered in patients in whom intravenous (IV) thrombolysis failed or was contraindicated. Outcome measures analyzed were recanalization rate, intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) rate, procedural complications, modified Rankin Scale score, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score, and mortality rate.

Results: The study included 41 male and 53 female patients with a mean age of 68 years (age range, 13-98 years). The mean NIHSS score at the time of admission was 14.7. Eight-three patients had anterior circulation ischemic events, and 11 had posterior circulation ischemic events. The cause was determined to be arterioembolic in 21 patients (22%), cardioembolic in 45 (48%), arterial dissection in 2, left-to-right cardiac shunt in 1, and unknown in 25 (27%). Endovascular interventions included intra-arterial (IA) pharmacological thrombolysis (n = 44), mechanical thrombolysis (Merci Retrieval System, intracranial or extracranial stent, microwire) (n = 79), and intracranial or extracranial angioplasty (n = 32) in various combinations. The mean time from stroke onset to angiogram was 72 minutes. Thirteen patients received a half dose (n = 8) or full dose (n = 5) of IV thrombolysis (tissue plasminogen activator [tPA]) in conjunction with endovascular therapy. Twenty-two patients received IA or IV adjunctive glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor (eptifibatide). Partial-to-complete recanalization (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction scale score of 2 or 3) was achieved in 62 of 89 of patients (70%) presenting with significant occlusion (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction scale score of 0 or 1). Postprocedure symptomatic ICH occurred in 5 patients (5.3%), which was purely subarachnoid hemorrhage in 3 patients. Of these, 2 received IA tPA in conjunction with Merci Retrieval System passes; the others each received IA tPA, mechanical thrombectomy (guidewire), or extracranial angioplasty. The total mortality rate including procedural mortality, progression of disease, and other comorbidities was 26.6%. Sixteen patients (17%) were discharged home, 49 (52%) to rehabilitation, and 4 (4%) to long-term care facilities. Overall, 36.7% had a modified Rankin Scale score of 2 or less at discharge. The mean NIHSS score at discharge was 6.5, representing an overall 8-point improvement on the NIHSS.

Conclusion: Endovascular therapy within the first 3 hours of stroke symptom onset in patients in whom IV tPA therapy is contraindicated or fails is safe, effective, and practical. The risk of symptomatic ICH is low and should be viewed relative to the poor prognosis in this group of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioplasty
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stents
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*
  • Time
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator