Intra-arterial thrombectomy versus standard intravenous thrombolysis in patients with anterior circulation stroke caused by intracranial arterial occlusions: a single-center experience

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2013 Nov;22(8):e323-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Background: Severely impaired patients with persisting intracranial occlusion despite standard treatment with intravenous (IV) administration of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) or presenting beyond the therapeutic window for IV rtPA may be candidates for interventional neurothrombectomy (NT). The safety and efficacy of NT by the Penumbra System (PS) were compared with standard IV rtPA treatment in patients with severe acute ischemic stroke (AIS) caused by large intracranial vessel occlusion in the anterior circulation.

Methods: Consecutive AIS patients underwent a predefined treatment algorithm based on arrival time, stroke severity as measured by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score, and site of arterial occlusion on computed tomographic angiography (CTA). NT was performed either after a standard dose of IV rtPA (bridging therapy [BT]) or as single treatment (stand-alone NT [SAT]). Rates of recanalization, symptomatic intracranial bleeding (SIB), mortality, and functional outcome in NT patients were compared with a historical cohort of IV rtPA treated patients (i.e., controls). Three-month favourable outcome was defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score ≤2.

Results: Forty-six AIS patients were treated with NT and 51 with IV rtPA. The 2 groups did not differ with regard to demographics, onset NIHSS score (18.5±4 v 17±5; P=.06), or site of intracranial occlusion. Onset-to-treatment time in the NT and IV rtPA groups was 230 minutes (±78) and 176.5 (±44) minutes, respectively (P=.001). NT patients had significantly higher percentages of major improvement (≥8 points NIHSS score change at 24 hours; 26% v 10%; P=.03) and partial/complete recanalization (93.5% v 45%; P<.0001) compared to controls. Treatment by either SAT or BT similarly improved the chance of early recanalization and early clinical improvement. No significant differences were observed in the rate of SIB (11% v 6%), 3-month mortality (24% v 25%), or favorable outcome (40% v 35%) between NT and IV rtPA patients.

Conclusions: Despite significantly delayed time of intervention, NT patients had higher rates of recanalization and early major improvement, with no differences in symptomatic intracranial hemorrhages. Early NIHSS score improvement did not translate into better 3-month mortality or outcome. NT seems a safe and effective adjuvant treatment strategy for selected patients with severe AIS secondary to large intracranial vessel occlusion in the anterior circulation.

Keywords: Acute ischemic stroke; intravenous thrombolysis; large intracranial vessel occlusion; neurothrombectomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / physiopathology
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infarction, Anterior Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Infarction, Anterior Cerebral Artery / therapy*
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / epidemiology
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thrombectomy / adverse effects
  • Thrombectomy / methods*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / adverse effects
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator