Background: Thrombectomy is currently recommended for eligible patients with stroke who are treated within 6 hours after the onset of symptoms.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter, randomized, open-label trial, with blinded outcome assessment, of thrombectomy in patients 6 to 16 hours after they were last known to be well and who had remaining ischemic brain tissue that was not yet infarcted. Patients with proximal middle-cerebral-artery or internal-carotid-artery occlusion, an initial infarct size of less than 70 ml, and a ratio of the volume of ischemic tissue on perfusion imaging to infarct volume of 1.8 or more were randomly assigned to endovascular therapy (thrombectomy) plus standard medical therapy (endovascular-therapy group) or standard medical therapy alone (medical-therapy group). The primary outcome was the ordinal score on the modified Rankin scale (range, 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating greater disability) at day 90.
Results: The trial was conducted at 38 U.S. centers and terminated early for efficacy after 182 patients had undergone randomization (92 to the endovascular-therapy group and 90 to the medical-therapy group). Endovascular therapy plus medical therapy, as compared with medical therapy alone, was associated with a favorable shift in the distribution of functional outcomes on the modified Rankin scale at 90 days (odds ratio, 2.77; P<0.001) and a higher percentage of patients who were functionally independent, defined as a score on the modified Rankin scale of 0 to 2 (45% vs. 17%, P<0.001). The 90-day mortality rate was 14% in the endovascular-therapy group and 26% in the medical-therapy group (P=0.05), and there was no significant between-group difference in the frequency of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (7% and 4%, respectively; P=0.75) or of serious adverse events (43% and 53%, respectively; P=0.18).
Conclusions: Endovascular thrombectomy for ischemic stroke 6 to 16 hours after a patient was last known to be well plus standard medical therapy resulted in better functional outcomes than standard medical therapy alone among patients with proximal middle-cerebral-artery or internal-carotid-artery occlusion and a region of tissue that was ischemic but not yet infarcted. (Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; DEFUSE 3 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02586415 .).