Time window for recanalization in basilar artery occlusion: Speculative synthesis

Neurology. 2015 Nov 17;85(20):1806-15. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002129.


Basilar artery occlusion (BAO) is one of the most devastating forms of stroke and few patients have good outcomes without recanalization. Most centers apply recanalization therapies for BAO up to 12-24 hours after symptom onset, which is a substantially longer time window than the 4.5 hours used in anterior circulation stroke. In this speculative synthesis, we discuss recent advances in BAO treatment in order to understand why and under which circumstances longer symptom duration might not necrotize the brainstem and turn therapeutic attempts futile. We raise the possibility that distinct features of the posterior circulation, e.g., highly developed, persistent collateral arterial network, reverse filling of the distal basilar artery, and delicate plasma flow siding the clot, might sustain brittle patency of brainstem perforators in the face of stepwise growth of the thrombus. Meanwhile, the tissue clock characterizing the rapid necrosis of a typical anterior circulation penumbra will not start. During this perilous time period, recanalization at any point would salvage the brainstem from eventual necrosis caused by imminent reinforcement and further building up of the clot.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / complications
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / surgery
  • Basilar Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Basilar Artery / surgery
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / trends*
  • Humans
  • Radiography
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / etiology
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency / surgery