Purpose: The aim of the study was to retrospectively evaluate the safety and efficacy of stent angioplasty of symptomatic intracranial stenosis in a single center experience.
Materials and methods: Between November 2006 and September 2009 a total of 54 stent angioplasties were performed in 49 patients and of these 46 were done for symptomatic intracranial high-grade (>70%) stenoses and 8 for complete vessel occlusions in acute stroke. All elective treatments were carried out with patients under antithrombotic/anticoagulant medication. Self-expandable stents were used in 42 cases and balloon-expandable stents in 12 cases.
Results: Stent angioplasty was successful in 53 out of 54 cases (98%). Periprocedural complications occurred in 6 patients, including 2 dissections, 1 contrast-mediated toxic reaction and 1 thromboembolic event with transient neurological deficits but did not cause permanent neurological deficits, in any of the cases. Adverse events within 30 days after intervention occurred in 11 of the 49 patients (20.4%) of which 4 were scheduled patients (8.3%) and 7 were treated for acute stroke with complete vessel occlusions (87.5%). Overall there were 9 cases of restenosis (7 out of 9>90% stenoses and 2 complete vessel occlusions), 5 out of 9 were asymptomatic, 4 out of 9 had a transient ischemic attack and 1 developed a major stroke. Two complete in-stent thromboses were seen in acute stroke patients with initial complete occlusion within 24 h after recanalization. One restenosis and one complete occlusion occurred under double antiplatelet medication, 4 out of 9 restenoses occurred under aspisol medication and 3 out of 9 after antiplatelet medication was discontinued. In 2 out of 9 restenoses, balloon-expandable stents had been used, the remaining 7 had been treated with self-expanding stents, 5 out of 9 restenoses were treated by balloon-angioplasty alone, in 3 out of 9 an additional stent had to be placed and 1 asymptomatic occlusion was left untreated.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate the technical feasibility and satisfactory success rates of stent angioplasty in intracranial atherosclerotic stenoses. The procedural success rate was 98% and the overall rate of adverse events was 20.4%. The rate of adverse events was high in unstable patients (87.5%) treated without antiplatelet premedication, especially in the setting of an acute stroke. In stable patients the rate of adverse events was much lower (8.3%). Future development of dedicated stents and a better understanding of factors that predispose to restenosis may help to further decrease the rate of periprocedural and postprocedural adverse events thus helping to improve both short-term and long-term outcome after intracranial stent angioplasty.