OBJECTIVE In vivo and in vitro studies have demonstrated histological evidence of iatrogenic endothelial injury after stent retriever thrombectomy. However, noncontrast vessel wall (VW)-MRI is insufficient to demonstrate vessel injury. Authors of this study prospectively evaluated iatrogenic endothelial damage after stent retriever thrombectomy in humans by utilizing high-resolution contrast-enhanced VW-MRI. Characterization of VW-MRI changes in vessels subject to mechanical injury from thrombectomy may allow better understanding of the biological effects of this intervention. METHODS The authors prospectively recruited 11 patients for this study. The treatment group included 6 postthrombectomy patients and the control group included 5 subjects undergoing MRI for nonvascular indications. All subjects were evaluated on a Signa HD× 3.0-T MRI scanner with an 8-channel head coil. Both pre- and postcontrast T1-weighted Cube VW images as well as MR angiograms were acquired. Sequences obtained for evaluation of the brain parenchyma included diffusion-weighted, gradient echo, and T2-FLAIR imaging. Two independent neuroradiologists, who were blinded to the treatment status of each patient, determined the presence of VW enhancement. Patient age, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score on presentation, location of occlusion, stroke etiology, type of device used, number of device deployments, Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction (TICI) reperfusion score, stroke volume, and 90-day modified Rankin Scale score were also noted. RESULTS Postcontrast T1-weighted VW enhancement was detected in the M2 segment in 100% of the thrombectomy patients, in the M1 segment in 83%, and in the internal carotid artery in 50%. One patient also demonstrated A1 segment enhancement, which was attributable to thrombectomy treatment of that vessel segment during the same procedure. None of the control patients demonstrated VW enhancement of their intracranial vasculature on T1-weighted images. CONCLUSIONS The study findings suggest that VW injury incurred during stent retriever thrombectomy can be reliably detected utilizing contrast-enhanced 3-T VW-MRI. The results further demonstrate that endothelial injury is associated with oversizing of stent retrievers relative to the treated vessel. Further studies are needed to evaluate the clinical significance of endothelial injury and to characterize the differential effects of various devices.
Keywords: ICA = internal carotid artery; MCA = middle cerebral artery; NIHSS = National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale; VW = vessel wall; magnetic resonance imaging; stent retriever; stroke; thrombectomy; vessel wall signal enhancement.