The neuro-critical care management of the endovascular stroke patient

Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2013 Apr;15(2):113-24. doi: 10.1007/s11940-012-0216-3.


Acute ischemic stroke carries high morbidity and mortality. The advent of intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular reperfusion techniques have helped improve clinical outcomes for patients with large vessel acute ischemic stroke. The care of the post-endovascular stroke patient is complex and encompasses almost all aspects of medicine. Hemodynamics should be optimized post procedure to ensure adequate cerebral perfusion and strict hemodynamic parameters must be adhered to minimize reperfusion injury. Though no studies have specifically examined hemodynamic goals, our practice is to maintain a mean arterial pressure (MAP) > 70 and systolic blood pressure (SBP) < 140 for patients following successful recanalization. Early anti-thrombotic therapy is indicated in patients with stent placement. It remains less clear which patients may benefit from additional anticoagulation or therapy with IIb/IIIa inhibitors. Careful consideration must be paid to volume status to reduce risk of contrast nephropathy and maximize cerebral perfusion. Oral care and attention to dysphagia are key in preventing aspiration pneumonia. Glycemic control should be optimized to avoid excessive hyper and hypoglycemia. In the absence of data to guide treatment of anemia, our practice is to transfuse asymptomatic anemia when Hgb < 7 mg/dL, or if the patient is symptomatic or hemodynamically unstable. Neuro-protective strategies should be considered in the context of clinical trials until further studies are complete. At a minimum, fever should be treated aggressively. Young patients with good pre-morbid functional status who continue to have large volume infarcts may benefit from decompressive hemicraniectomy. When appropriate, aggressive and early mobilization is recommended to prepare patients for acute rehabilitation. Because randomized prospective data is lacking, patients should be encouraged to enroll in clinical trials to optimize care of this growing patient population.