Background: Acute proximal (cervical) internal carotid artery (ICA) occlusion may cause ischemia of an entire hemisphere or no ischemia at all, depending on the presence of intracranial collaterals.
Objective: To retrospectively analyze the clinical results for emergent endovascular carotid recanalization in patients with acute proximal (cervical) ICA occlusion and to assess predictors of recanalization and clinical, neurological, and functional outcome.
Methods: Emergent endovascular revascularization was attempted in 22 patients presenting with acute stroke secondary to complete cervical ICA occlusion. Patients with pseudo-occlusion were excluded. Recanalization was assessed with the Thrombolysis in Myocardial Ischemia (TIMI) system: grade 0 (no flow) to grade 3 (normal flow).
Results: The median age of the patients was 65 years; mean admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was 14. Recanalization (TIMI grade 2/3) occurred in 17 patients (77.3%). Ten patients (45.5%) demonstrated significant clinical improvement during hospitalization (NIHSS improved ≥4 points). Fifty percent of patients had good outcomes (modified Rankin Scale ≤2) after a median follow-up of 3 months. Patient age <70 years and successful recanalization (TIMI grade 2/3) predicted a good outcome (P ≤ .01). Presence of atrial fibrillation, admission NIHSS score ≥20, and complete ICA occlusion at all levels (cervical, petrocavernous, and intracranial) were associated with poor outcomes (P ≤ .05). Patients with complete cervical ICA occlusion but partial distal preservation of the vessel were most likely to benefit from the intervention (recanalization in 88.2%; good outcome in 64.7%).
Conclusion: Attempts at emergent endovascular carotid recanalization for acute stroke are encouraged, particularly in younger patients with partial distal preservation of the ICA.